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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


February 2017

February 28, 2017

Every quarter, San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the region's standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. 
 
The Economic Snapshot covers data from October to December 2016 (Q4), the most recent quarter available, in regard to employment, real estate and venture capital. 
 
Highlights include:
  • The San Diego region had the 14th lowest unemployment rate amongst the top 25 metros. This ranking is down four spots from Q2 2016.
  • The region’s unemployment rate of 4.2 percent continues to be lower than the national and state rates of 4.5 and 5.0 percent, respectively.
  • The region’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 percentage points between Q3 and Q4 2016, the 9th largest decrease among major metros.
  • Year-over-year, the region has added 28,900 jobs - a 2.0 percent increase.
  • With the exception of manufacturing, all of the region’s sectors experienced year-over-year growth. Leading the way was real estate and rental leasing which increased by 6.1 percent or 1,700 jobs.
  • The largest venture capital investments were in disease diagnosis, internet software and services and biotechnology companies. The top two deals accounted for 44.1 percent of the region’s total investment for the quarter, or $79 million.

Check out the full Quarterly Economic Snapshot here.

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February 22, 2017
The largest city in the state of Baja California, Tijuana sits at one of busiest land border crossings in the world. Together with San Diego, Tijuana is part of a dynamic cross-border metropolis where deep economic and cultural linkages result in the creation of value, jobs and exports. The unique dynamics of this mega-region provide local companies with an important comparative advantage in the global economy. Since April 2016, EDC has participated in a greater initiative to streamline cross-border economic development efforts by refining our approach to servicing corporate retention, expansion and attraction interests. This “bilateral cities exchange” called for a deeper understanding of Tijuana’s economy as a critical component of economic growth throughout the region. 
 
As such, EDC partnered with UC San Diego’s Center for US-Mexican Studies to create an economic overview of Tijuana – a seven-page document that provides a data-driven summary of Tijuana’s economic drivers, talent, quality of life, global connectivity and cost. This resource will help inform clients and partners of Tijuana’s diversifying economy while touching on the unique benefits of doing business in our binational mega-region.
 
Highlights include:
  • Economy: Tijuana is a medical device manufacturing powerhouse; 97 companies employ 21,000 workers who produced $600M worth of product in 2014. 
  • In 2015, Tijuana graduated more than 8,000 university-level students – 29 percent of which received STEM degrees.
  • Tijuana ranked #8 on the New York Times' 2017 list of must-visit destinations around the world.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, FDI in Baja totaled $5.6 billion – 63 percent of which came from the U.S. Other sources of FDI include South Korea, the Netherlands, Japan and Spain.
  • When compared to China, Mexico is estimated to have 13 percent lower labor costs and an overall average direct manufacturing cost that is four percentage points cheaper than China. 
 
February 17, 2017

Like CES for maritime… San Diego welcomed the world's leading marine science and ocean technology exhibition and conference this week. Oceanology International (OI) – launched in London in 1969 – kicked off its first North American conference at the San Diego Convention Center, bringing together more than 1,500 attendees and 150 maritime technology companies from more than 13 countries. Led by The Maritime Alliance and with the support of EDC, OI will be a biennial event in San Diego, switching to London in off-years.
 
The tradeshow connected companies and consumers from across the world, and served to help improve strategies for developing, protecting and operating in the world’s oceans.
 
Why San Diego?
With 70 miles of coastline, a concentrated military presence and innovation-driven technology companies, San Diego has emerged as a hub for maritime technology. Driving this point home, local companies large and small set up shop at Oceanology International North America – from Ocean Aero with its unmanned surface and underwater vehicles to SonTek with its underwater sensors, or Planck Aerosystems that can land an aerial drone autonomously on a moving vessel. Attendees got first-hand access to current and impending innovation in maritime and bluetech.
 
February 16, 2017

Content pulled from a piece in the San Diego Business JournalVAVi Faced Its Own Obstacle Course
 
EDC investor and recreational sporting events organizer VAVi Sport & Social Club was looking to make a big splash at its first major international competition: a 20,000-person obstacle course and race in Sydney, Australia. Little did VAVi know its shipment of inflatable obstacles would present its own set of obstacles.  
 
The company loaded its $1 million worth of goods into shipping containers, set to arrive a month before the event. Complications arose in South Korea when VAVi’s equipment was unloaded and seemingly forgotten about on storage docks. This is when EDC came in… 
 
Having been a part of the 2015 global export assistance program MetroConnect, VAVi CEO Steve Stoloff called on EDC and the organization’s World Trade Center team to leverage its international network for support. EDC staff contacted the U.S. Commercial Service – the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce – to ensure the forgotten equipment would be loaded onto another boat bound for Australia. Staff also reached out to contacts in Sydney to coordinate on-the-ground transportation from Brisbane to Sydney, since this new boat would no longer be porting in Sydney. 
 
And it didn’t stop there. EDC’s board of directors stepped up to the challenge. Helping recover some of the money lost in the fuss, Linde Hotchkiss, managing partner at the global risk advisory and insurance solutions firm Willis Towers Watson, counseled VAVi on the qualms of international shipping and helped facilitate an insurance claim.
 
With all hands on deck, VAVi received its shipment and salvaged the prominent event – saving one-fifth of the company’s yearly projected sales. This is not simply a company story of overcoming obstacles in going global, but of the collaborative nature of San Diego’s business community. This is who San Diego is.
 
February 14, 2017
This weekend, years of hard work came to life for BAE Systems and partners across the state as the Barrio Logan-based shipyard cut the ribbon on its new dry dock, the Pride of California.
 
At 950 feet long and capable of lifting nearly 55,000 tons, the dry dock is the largest in California and the third largest in the nation. Used for ship repair and construction, the dry dock is flooded to allow watercraft to float in and then drained so watercraft can be set on a dry platform for work.
 
EDC board member and BAE Vice President Bob Koerber joined Congressman Scott Peters, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Port Chairman Robert “Dukie” Valderrama and an audience of more than 150 senior military personnel for the event inside the dry dock’s 100-foot walls. The dry dock was shipped across the Pacific Ocean on a 7,000 mile, 60-day journey. It represents approximately $100 million in infrastructure investment from BAE to increase the shipyard's capacity to meet the growing needs of the U.S. Navy.  
 
BAE currently employs 2,000 workers in San Diego, with the dry dock anticipated to add more jobs over the next several years. BAE is a critical pillar of San Diego’s working waterfront, where the shipbuilding and ship repair industry employs approximately 12,000 San Diegans and has an economic impact of $1.75 billion annually throughout the county.
 
EDC was proud to support this monumental engineering project by working directly with BAE to craft a competitive application for the Cal Competes Tax Credit program, which they ultimately won. Awarded in 2015, BAE's $1.55 million tax credit supports the shipyards ability to remain competitive and continue to invest in their yard and workforce. 
 
With the rebalance to the Pacific, the U.S. Navy’s presence in San Diego will continue to grow dramatically over the next several years. The challenges associated with this growth include the ability for local industry to service, build, upgrade and repair the equipment for the influx of U.S. Navy vessels. With President Trump calling for the Navy to increase its current fleet to 350 ships, San Diego will be on the receiving end of increased spending.
 
February 9, 2017

If you build it, they will come…”  This mantra was true of the Field of Dreams, and now of San Diego’s burgeoning tech ecosystem.

Together with 35 of San Diego's best and biggest tech companies, Innovate78 representatives joined the San Diego Venture Group's Tacos + Tech in Silicon Valley last week. The event – appropriately held at the Computer History Museum – played host to more than 700 curious Bay Area engineers and programmers, and served to showcase the high-tech jobs and opportunities available across San Diego.

With a special focus on attracting Bay Area engineers, North County companies like ViaSat, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Verve, as well as other San Diego companies like Illumina, Dexcom, ResMed, Qualcomm, Human Longevity, Cubic, Hired and LoanHero set up shop at the job fair-like event. Company recruiters spoke to San Diego as the alternative to Northern California’s congested traffic, high cost of living, hyper-competitive workforce culture and other issues plaguing the region.

As a proud sponsor, the EDC-led economic development initiative Innovate78 represented North County at a booth, with leaders from the five cities along the 78 Corridor – Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista – at the helm. Conversations with attendees ranged from North County housing costs to the growing tech sector, to the many breweries that make up the ‘Hops Highway’ – one of the primary booths highlighting the region's lifestyle.

While many attendees admitted connection to San Diego through family, school or dream vacations, it seemed as though the region’s tech ecosystem – which employs nearly 69,000 people – has flown under the radar. Tacos + Tech provided a platform for some of San Diego County’s top employers and innovators to attract Bay Area talent through simply sharing San Diego's reality: a broad diversity of career opportunity mixed with a top-tier quality of life (and, of course, tacos and beer). For decades, San Diego has built this ecosystem, and now…the talent will most certainly come.

Tacos + Tech comes on the heels of SDVG's Beachhead launch, a coworking space for San Diego entrepreneurs working out of Silicon Valley.