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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


July 2016

July 28, 2016

By Nikia Clarke, Director, World Trade Center San Diego

This week, World Trade Center San Diego spent a whirlwind few days in Tokyo celebrating the launch of a UC San Diego office and workspace in the heart of the life sciences hub in downtown Tokyo, Japan. The workspace will promote collaborations between UC San Diego researchers – and the larger San Diego business ecosystem – and research, education and industry partners in Japan.

Located in the region’s largest trade and investment market, the facility represents how San Diego continues to lead with its research and innovation in building global connectivity and competitiveness.

As a collaboration between the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the UC San Diego Office of Research Affairs, the Tokyo facility will serve as a home base for university faculty whose research brings them to Japan and as a venue for research symposia, networking events and alumni functions.

As is always the case in San Diego, the opening was founded in regional collaboration. I was proud to celebrate the opening alongside Sandra Brown, UC San Diego vice chancellor for research, dean of UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Al Pisano and Robert Sullivan, dean of UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management. It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet so many UC San Diego alumni, who are now in positions of influence throughout Japan’s major industries, and all are eager to build bridges back to San Diego.

“We are very pleased the office is located at the heart of the life sciences hub in Tokyo, a perfect fit for UC San Diego as our two cities are seen as world leaders in life sciences and biotechnology,” said Sandra Brown, UC San Diego Vice Chancellor for Research.

A big thank you to Rough Draft Brewing, one of this year’s MetroConnect companies, who provided some of San Diego’s finest craft beer for giveaway at the event. That’s the San Diego story: world-class research and innovation, paired with first-class enjoyment.

For more information, visit UC San Diego’s news release.

July 27, 2016

This is part of a weekly series featuring a profile on one of the 2016 MetroConnect Program companies. MetroConnect is dedicated to helping local San Diego businesses go global and is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

In a recent report released by California Life Sciences Association, $23 billion in California’s 2015 exports came from life sciences. With more than 1,100 companies and a total economic impact of more than $31.8 billion, it is no surprise that San Diego’s life science sector ranks 4th in the nation. Our next MetroConnect company profile features an innovative medical device company that plans to advance San Diego’s life science reputation abroad, AVACEN Medical.

In 2009, Tom Muehlbauer founded AVACEN Medical, a company that produces a medical device initially developed for his sister-in-law who suffered from chronic migraines. Through a micro-circulation mechanism, the AVACEN 100 provides non-invasive, temporary arthritis and muscle pain relief and relaxation. Cleared by the FDA, the device is an over the counter option that’s can be self-administered from the comfort of one’s own home.

Recognizing an opportunity to expand into the EU, AVACEN Medical plans to leverage the MetroConnect Grant Prize to help in obtaining their CE mark, as well as developing better ways of delivering their products to international markets. The company also plans to use the MetroConnect Program to expand their patent portfolio, particularly across Japan, Europe and South Korea.

Muehlbauer states, “Based on the early interest and success we’ve seen in the launch of the AVACEN 100, we’re excited to scale up and bring our product to an international customer base. Arthritis and muscle pain is something that affects millions around the world, and our participation in MetroConnect will allow our at-home solution to help more of those patients in need of relief.

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Program, companies such as AVACEN Medical are to be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts, as well as additional support services including: a dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period; access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing; reduced airfare on Japan Airlines direct flights from San Diego to Tokyo; free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs; and consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016.

July 22, 2016

Phil Blair

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“While June's unemployment rate climbed – a typical trend as educational workers tend to lose employment during summer  key sectors like leisure and hospitality, PST and PBS all experienced strong year-over-year growth. San Diego's unemployment rate continues to remains lower than statewide unemployment.”
Phil Blair, Executive Officer
Manpower San Diego


This post is part of an ongoing monthly series dedicated to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) monthly employment release and is brought to you by Manpower

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for June in addition to revised data for May 2016. This month’s data shows that San Diego's economy has slowed during the summer months; unemployment experienced an increase while total regional employment grew more slowly than previous months.  

June’s unemployment rate climbed back to 5.1 percent for the first time since October 2015; up 0.9 percentage points from a revised 4.2 percent in May. The unemployment rate is down 0.1 points from the previous year. San Diego’s unemployment rate continues to remain lower than statewide unemployment and is now on par with national unemployment rates of 5.7 and 5.1 percent, respectively.

San Diego’s rate rose in part due to an increase in the labor force. A familiar trend in the region this time of year as many public and private seasonal educational workers tend to lose employment during the summer months. Education accounted for nearly 1,000 jobs lost during May and June combined. Although a seasonal uptick in unemployment is common during the summer, the increase of 0.9 percentage points is significantly higher than seen in recent years. Additional job losses in finance and insurance in addition to health care and social assistance also contributed to the increase in unemployment.

Total nonfarm employment increased steadily since May, adding 8,000 jobs. More importantly, year-over-year nonfarm employment went up by 37,600, a 2.7 percent increase. The private sector drove employment growth in June, as private employment accounted for nearly 83.2 percent, or an increase of 31,300 jobs, of all employment growth over the year. The total private sector grew by 2.7 percent year-over-year.

 At the height of summer and peak tourism season, the region’s leisure and hospitality industry was the largest driver of regional employment growth, adding 5,400 jobs since May. Leisure and hospitality experienced strong year-over-year growth, adding 7,800 jobs, a 4.2 per

cent increase over the previous year, and contributing to 24.9 percent of private sector growth.

Professional, scientific and technical services (PST), a subset of professional and business services (PBS) and strongly associated with the region’s innovation economy, accounted for over 11.5 percent of private sector growth, adding 1,000 jobs since May.

While the June report released today showed increased unemployment in the region’s economy, which is in line with familiar seasonal trends, overall job growth was solid. Unemployment remains well below the state and year-over growth in the region was spread out across a variety of base sectors.

 

July 22, 2016

The California Competes Tax Credit is a program created by the California legislature and managed by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). The tax credits are awarded by the state to companies who are looking to move to, or stay and grow in, California. In the 2015-16 round, the state awarded more than $150 million in tax credits to 259 companies who pledged to create almost 20,986 jobs over the next five years.

Within each year of the Cal Competes program credits are awarded over three separate rounds. In the last round of the 2015-16 fiscal year of the program, which closed in June, San Diego companies captured $7 million in tax credits – the largest amount of tax credits in the state and 16 percent of the total allotted credits. San Diego received more than $1 million more in tax credits than the second-place region, El Centro – San Diego’s neighbor to the east.

Throughout the entire 2015-16 program (encompassing three rounds), the California Competes program granted 38 San Diego companies more than $19.7 million in tax credits – 13 percent of the total tax credits awarded and the second highest of all regions in the state. With this, local companies committed to the creation of 2,070 jobs over the next five years, which will result in more than $369 million in wages. Those same companies will be investing $214 million in a variety capital projects over that same period.

The program divides companies into either the small or large business category where companies compete separately for a tax credit. In San Diego, large businesses received 7.6 percent – or $11.6 million – of all tax credits for the 2015-16 year. The region’s small businesses were awarded $8 million in tax credits, or 5.32 percent of the year’s pool.              

The Cal Competes program will open its first round of the 2016-17 fiscal year on Monday, July 25 where $75 million of this year’s $250 million is up for grabs. If your business is considering relocating to, or expanding in, California, we encourage you to look at the program as tool to reduce your tax liability. Our team stands by to assist with applications, as we have with many other San Diego companies including Hunter Industries, Taylor Guitars and more.

Attend a workshop to learn how your business can apply for a tax credit, or contact Jesse Gipe for more information.

July 22, 2016

By Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC

Each time I have the opportunity to travel and represent our binational economy in foreign markets, I leave with new ideas, opportunities and connections that I see pay off for our region. My trip to London this past week will no doubt yield similar results. But I also can't help but feel like I was part of something bigger this time.

I began the trip as a proud member of the ProMexico Pavilion at the Farnborough International Airshow and Trade Show. Reminding the world's aerospace community of how actively San Diego supports Baja's robust aerospace/manufacturing economy is a role I am always excited to play. And while the legendary English rains put quite a damper on the first day of the show (flooding the trade show floors and completely knocking out electrical power), we still managed to pack in a lot of important meetings.

Returning bright and early for day two, we started off meeting with global manufacturer, Esterline to get an update on the status of their expansion efforts within Baja. Our mega region was out in full force as Baja Governor Francisco A. Vega de Lamadrid brought the newly elected mayors from Tijuana, Mexicali and Tecate together, along with Cristina Hermosillo (President of the Tijuana EDC) and I to talk about how we can continue to support the company from both sides of the border. The respect and support the delegation was able to convey to Esterline, and the company's clear appreciation and enthusiasm were worth the cost of the trip.

After this meeting, Cristina and I were able to get additional time with mayor-elect, Juan Manuel Gastelum of Tijuana, to develop a strategy to position the city as a software support hub and a key asset for San Diego's innovation economy. This meeting proved to be timely and important as well.

Between meetings and ceremonies at the Mexico Pavilion, I ventured out through the acres of trade show space to link up with representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, economic development colleagues from the State of Washington and local industry giants, Cubic and General Atomics. And as is often the case at Farnborough, a chance encounter on the ride back to London led to a new business relationship between an Italian-based supplier who Cristina and I stood next to on the train and a Baja-based manufacturer who was part of our delegation. Tri-national economic development at its best!

Days three and four were a whirlwind of walks, black cabs and tube rides through London. We were meeting with and feeling out various businesses and political leaders for the potential of a San Diego trade and investment mission in early 2017, led by Mayor Kevin Faulconer. The reception and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Despite the rather historic backdrop of both the Brexit and the appointment of a new female Prime Minister, the political and economic leadership in London is clearly not breaking stride. We met with representatives from Mayor Sadiq Khan's office and learned that climate change, economic inclusion and cross-border relationships—all hallmarks of our Mayor's administration in San Diego—are at the top of their London agenda. These items combined with a broader dialogue around data, open government and other "smart cities" topics will clearly make for a strong and timely series of meetings between the mayors.

The leaders at super-agency, London and Partners, pledged to work closely with our team at EDC to ensure that a potential visit in 2017 is mutually beneficial and showcases both long-term opportunities and measurable results. Additional meetings with Tech London Advocates (a large Connect-like network that supports London's start-up community), OneNucleus (a small BIOCOM-like entity that brings together London's life sciences companies) and MedCity London (a large network of well-funded life sciences incubators that have been spinning out new biotechnology and medical technology companies for almost a decade) confirmed that the interest in San Diego's biotech, high-tech and startup communities has never been higher.

We had a final meeting with a fascinating NGO called Nesta, where we explored the opportunity for San Diego to be included in some of their research and benchmarking efforts with other major global cities. It turns out they have been looking to engage more with cities in North America...sometimes timing is everything.

Looking back at my week overseas, my key takeaway is just how much our geographic proximity to Mexico and our strong regional collaboration with our partners in Tijuana/Baja have become key to our global identity. And at a time when the world is hearing international news reports of divisive and hateful rhetoric coming from one of our nation's Presidential candidates, the realities of Tijuana and San Diego working together and supporting each other have never meant more to our region and our nation's reputation abroad. We were told as much at the end of just about every meeting we had.

So I truly hope we will be returning to London in 2017 to see our two mayors open up a new connectedness between our highly innovative cities. I hope that business and university leaders from throughout our region will be there with us to generate new investment, trade and strategic partnerships. And I also hope that our partners and friends from Mexico will be right there by our sides—as always—continuing to show the world what binational leadership and collaboration looks like. I believe this can be one of the most important overseas missions our region will ever embark on. And I am certain that the results will pay off in more ways than we can possibly measure.

So as our #GlobalSD campaign marches on, we want to once again thank all of our partners and investors who are continuing to make it all possible. And if you see Mayor Faulconer, don't forget to remind him how much you appreciate, support and encourage his leadership in these efforts.

July 20, 2016

This is part of a weekly series featuring a profile on one of the 2016 MetroConnect Program companies. MetroConnect is dedicated to helping local San Diego businesses go global and is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

According to a policy brief released by National University System Institute for Policy Research, 114 San Diego-based breweries and brewpubs generated $851 million in sales last year and employed more than 4,500 workers. Ranking second Best Beer Cities in America and taking home big wins at Del Mar’s 10th Annual International Beer Festival, San Diego is clearly making strides in the craft brewing scene. Aptly, our next MetroConnect company profile highlights a successful local brewery that hopes to take their San Diego story (and beer) abroad.

After making the switch from insurance to craft brewing, UC San Diego alum Jeff Silver opened Rough Draft Brewing Company in 2011. The company’s mission is to create innovative, high-quality craft beers worth sharing with those who love beer as much as they do. Rough Draft now has more than a dozen options on constant rotation available in their tasting room, from the Freudian Sip Strong Ale to the Barrel-aged Emboozlement Tripel.

Having recently expanded capacity into the facility next door, Rough Draft is well-prepared to grow its global reach beyond its current exports to Canada and Australia, with a new focus on Mexico, Spain, Japan and Korea. The company plans to leverage the MetroConnect Program to make distributor connections and comply with label regulations, as well as support travel necessary to promote its product internationally.

Silver states, “In manufacturing, there are typically two problems you always face: not making enough and not selling enough. With our capacity expansion, we have ‘making enough’ covered. Now, with the support of the World Trade Center San Diego and MetroConnect, we look forward to   seizing opportunities that come with expanding to new global markets.

Silver and his team remain committed to the growth of the business while still retaining the quality and creativity Rough Draft has become known for. Beer tip: Keep on the lookout for a special raspberry infused ale aged in chardonnay barrels coming out this summer (certain members of the EDC team will definitely be heading over for a tasting).

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Program, companies such as Rough Draft Brewing Company are to be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts, as well as additional support services including: a dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period; access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing; reduced airfare on Japan Airlines direct flights from San Diego to Tokyo; free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs; and consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016.

July 18, 2016

This is part of a weekly series featuring a profile on one of the 2016 MetroConnect Program companies. MetroConnect is dedicated to helping local San Diego businesses go global and is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

A pioneer in renewable energy, San Diego is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies in cleantech research and development. The region’s cleantech industry includes the innovation and deployment of technologies in clean transportation, energy storage, energy efficiency, biorenewables and solar and wind power. Solatube Worldwide Sales, a company owned by North County-based Solatube International, Inc. is an excellent example of how a San Diego company combines innovation in both harvesting solar energy and energy efficiency. 

Solatube tubular daylighting devices (TDDs) are affordable, high-performance lighting solutions that bring daylight into interior spaces where traditional skylights and windows simply can’t reach. Sometimes called “light tubes,” TDDs have become the ideal solution for lighting interiors in a cost-effective, energy-efficient and eco-friendly way because they significantly reduce the need for electricity while keeping people connected to the outdoor environment. Solatube products are used in commercial and residential settings in over 120 countries around the world.

Solatube Worldwide Sales acts as the international division that handles all areas outside the U.S. and Canada. Impressively, the team of three employees currently markets and sells Solatube Daylighting Systems and Solar Star Attic Fans into Southeast Asia, Korea and Africa, on top of managing in-country sales reps and distributor networks.

With a new focus on India’s market, Solatube Worldwide Sales plans to use MetroConnect Program support for import tariff reduction projects, exhibitor presence at key trade shows, travel to meetings with Bureau of Energy Efficiency and other tariff reducing entities, as well as market research and workforce growth strategy.  

Todd Maerowitz, Director of International Sales states, “We’re looking forward to working closely with the San Diego World Trade Center on our expansion of Solatube’s products into emerging markets. As we move into places like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, the relationships and financial support we’ll be privy to as part of the program, are sure to prove beneficial to our growth plans."

 

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Program, companies such as Solatube Worldwide Sales are be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts, as well as additional support services including: a dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period; access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing; reduced airfare on Japan Airlines direct flights from San Diego to Tokyo; free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs; and consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016.

July 15, 2016

On July 14, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer hosted more than 100 business and community leaders at the One San Diego 100 reception. The reception, hosted at DeskHub in Little Italy, recognized early adopters of the Mayor’s One San Diego 100 Initiative, while learning more about the creative ways companies throughout the region are investing in our future workforce and encouraging others to get involved.

The initiative, a recommendation of the Mayor’s OpportunityWORKS Taskforce, challenges 100 businesses throughout the region to engage in providing meaningful work-based learning experiences for young adults. Experiences range from summer jobs and internships to company tours, job shadows and the creation of learning labs inspired by Qualcomm’s Thinkabit Lab.

To date, more than 68 companies have signed on to the Initiative. Any company, large or small, is encouraged to participate and share the exciting ways they are connecting the next generation of workers to San Diego’s thriving economy.  For more information or to share your company’s story, visit onesandiego100.org or contact Ashley Swartout at as@sandiegobusiness.org