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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


September 2017

September 29, 2017

Last week, members of the EDC team joined 20 board members, investors and partners on a trip to Louisville, Kentucky. The purpose was to learn about that city’s emphasis on inclusion and compassion as focal points for their branding and economic development efforts. We met passionate people—both in the private and public sectors—who are working hard to create a community that is uniquely Louisville.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer set the tone when he welcomed our group Wednesday evening and stayed to talk with us about Louisville’s past, its present challenges and the city’s goals around lifelong learning, health and compassion. Louisville’s challenges are significant, but they do not shy away from talking about them openly. And there is a genuine continuity to how people raise, speak about and confront these issues.

Research and workforce representatives presented hard-hitting data on the region’s existing economic disparities, as well as ambitions to add 55,000 degrees over a ten year span. The city’s economic development team and business leaders explained how the region has to work harder than most to attract and retain talent, and showcase their region as a place that is ripe for investment and growth—despite having 30,000 current job openings and being among the most affordable of large metros.

Many of the challenges that they face today stem from events that happened generations ago. But they embrace their past with the belief that they can’t chart where they are going if they ignore where they have been. Addressing a history of racial segregation, poverty and stagnant population growth are as much a part of their economic development discussion and focus as attraction, retention and expansion. The authenticity that was threaded throughout our visit culminated in an honest dialogue among our delegation.

San Diego’s Story

Back home, San Diego has experienced solid economic growth, led by its innovation industries, which have added jobs three times faster the overall economy1. However, this prosperity has not been shared by all San Diegans. A recent study found that there are more than one million people in our region with incomes too low to afford basic costs of living—the numbers are even more appalling for our black and Latino populations.

In San Diego Latinos represent one-third of the population, and are projected to be the majority by 20302. Yet only 17 percent have completed a bachelor’s degree program or higher3. Meanwhile our region has a deficit of 4,500 STEM graduates4. But talent shortages exist in every metro area—our population is our talent pool.

And while we have large employers in our region that are the vanguard of innovation, 59 percent of our workforce is employed by smaller firms that often pay below average wages5. Layer on the fact that San Diego has the second highest median home price and is the fourth most expensive metro to live in6, and you quickly see the risks to our competitiveness as a region.

We spent the past six months working with key partners to develop our story and better understand our own regional challenges. And in the coming weeks we will reassemble our delegation, as well as business and community leaders, to build an economic development agenda that benefits more people, companies and communities: an agenda that grows our own talent, bolsters small- and medium-sized firm growth, and addresses the cost of living pressures on talent attraction and retention.

There is a lot of work to be done, and it will require great collaboration and coordination. Our mission at EDC is to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. To live up to that mission our economic development strategies must promote and account for growth and inclusion.

Click here for an EDC-produced research profile on the Louisville and San Diego economies.

Footnotes

1.      U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006-2015.

2.      American Community Survey, 2016; SANDAG population projections.

3.      American Community Survey, 2016.

4.      EMSI, 2017.2.

5.      Firms with fewer than 100 people; CA EDD Business Statistics, 2015.

6.      Among 50 most populous metros; National Association of Realtors, 2017; C2ER, 2017; EMSI, 2017.3.

September 29, 2017

By now, just about everyone has heard the news about Amazon and its pursuit to develop a second headquarters operation (HQ2), somewhere in North America. The announcement came out through Tech Crunch and The Wall Street Journal last month and spread like wild fire through economic development communities and elected offices across the nation. Suffice it to say that Amazon has created one of the most competitive business attraction processes in history. Cities, counties, even states, are bending over backwards to make their areas fit the profile that Amazon is seeking: a metro or suburban region with more than 1 million people, the ability to attract and retain tech talent and other amenities like direct flights to key markets.

With the input of EDOs and partners across the county and state, San Diego Regional EDC is coordinating a regional response to Amazon’s HQ2 proposal.

On paper, the region checks all the boxes that Amazon lists in its RFP. In addition, the region has a handful of quality sites that meet the requirements of their build out: ability to deliver 500,000 ft2 by 2019 and up to 8 million ft2 in subsequent phases. San Diego also has a top-tier tech workforce (Amazon has stated they could hire up to 50,000 people) and quality of life that is unparalleled throughout most of the world. But when you look beneath the surface, San Diego also needs to realize that Amazon is commanding what will inevitably be record-setting incentive packages, an area where the State of California has scarcely been competitive, and for good reason. Incentives rarely yield impacts that exceed the costs. Further, when trying to find the location for a truly Life. Changing. company, incentives usually are nothing more than marginalia. Talent, quality of life and the prospect of being able to succeed are ultimately the more important factors. Nonetheless, the process that Amazon has put forth will command hundreds of millions, if not billions in incentives – amounts that can change minds.

Second, San Diego can’t change its geography. There has been debate throughout this process whether being in the same time zone as Seattle (Amazon's current HQ) would be a blessing or a curse. While there are “experts” on both sides of the argument, we ultimately don’t know what Amazon is looking for: West Coast ease of access to Seattle, East Coast access to financial and political centers and new talent pools, or somewhere in between. Only time will tell.

In summary, we don’t know where Amazon will ultimately end up. As an EDO, EDC is excited about the opportunity to bring our region together and present our best opportunities. It’s a good test to see just what we can do when the right opportunity comes along. In conjunction with partners from around the county and state, EDC will submit a response to Amazon’s RFP ahead of its October 19 deadline. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

September 29, 2017

This week, EDC took its Link2 San Diego program on the road, setting up shop at Cal Poly SLO’s Computing Career Fair where CS and engineering students came to connect with the biggest names in tech from around the country. The best news: we weren’t the only San Diego representation in the room. Among the sea of 35+ company booths were locals ViaSat, Booz Allen Hamiliton and Intuit.

EDC’s booth, themed San Diego: Life. Changing., served as the information hotspot for students looking to relocate after graduation. Of the 70 students we spoke with, most expressed interest in staying in California, and many were considering San Diego for post-grad. Confirming a common misconception, many students thought of San Diego as only a vacation beach-town and were unaware that the region is home to tech powerhouses Google, GoPro, Amazon, Intuit, FitBit and many more. We took this opportunity to garner student interest in the Link2 San Diego event taking place on SLO’s campus the week following (October 3), where students could network in a more casual, informational setting with local companies ViaSat, Intuit, Takeda, Solar Turbines and MindBody.

Our giveaways served to drive the San Diego reality home. The San Diego: Life. Changing. pocket guide and company map highlighted the industry opportunity available in San Diego, while our bottle openers (the fan favorite) alluded to our leading craft beer scene.

The purpose of the Link2 San Diego program is to highlight the career opportunity available in San Diego. We’ve done this locally, at SDSU, US San Diego, USD and more. And now, with the Cal Poly Computing Career Fair, we’ve taken these efforts on the road – attracting students and soon-to-be grads into our region.  Up next: EDC will be hitting the road again for Link2 San Diego at UC Irvine in October.

September 28, 2017

From Uber to GE to Qualcomm, companies in the tech world are racing to develop autonomous vehicles.  But you don’t have to go to Silicon Valley to find a company developing solutions for the first autonomous truck. TuSimple, a Bejing-based startup with R&D facilities in San Diego, is one reason. The company is developing technology for fully autonomous commercial trucks – a new frontier in the tech world.

In June, the company completed its first 200 mile test ride between San Diego and Yuma, Arizona, piloting its technology on a sedan. Soon, it hopes to move the technology into trucks, and with high profile investors like NVIDIA, they have a good shot.

When the startup was trying to get their product into testing phase, EDC stepped into help. Both SANDAG and the City of Chula Vista are part of an autonomous vehicle proving ground – one of ten in the country approved by Department of Transportation. EDC connected TuSimple with project leads at both entities to explore testing options right in their backyard.

Bringing a new technology to market is often met with regulatory challenges. EDC has connected TuSimple to the Department of Motor Vehicles to help navigate the regulatory framework to allow for autonomous testing of trucks in California.

The highway of the future will look very different. TuSimple is just one San Diego company driving that change.

September 22, 2017
For the second consecutive year, East County-based guitar manufacturer Taylor Guitars generously played host to WTC San Diego and the 15 companies part of the MetroConnect program for a day-long export compliance workshop.
 
We kicked off the day with a tour of the company’s manufacturing operations, showcasing the craftsmanship that goes into the creation of every Taylor guitar. Then, the MetroConnect cohort was treated to lunch and an information session about global growth, IP protection and even corruption in the international marketplace. Taylor Guitars CFO Barbara Wight provided first-hand insight about the company’s ever-present struggle with foreign guitar counterfeits and resellers. She described how the company effectively responds to IP infringement, and helped the MetroConnect cohort think through how they might be at risk, and how they might combat such infringement.
 
Taylor Guitars Director of Finance Bryan Bear then described the company's schema for prioritizing international markets and choosing an entrance strategy.
 
These workshops are among several support services provide to local SMEs as part the MetroConnect program. 
September 21, 2017

EDC officially launched San Diego: Life. Changing., a campaign to raise San Diego’s profile and attract and retain top STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) talent in the region. SDlifechanging.org includes information about living and working in the San Diego region, and will soon include a digital toolkit to assist companies in their recruitment efforts.                          

The campaign was launched at a specially-themed San Diego: Life. Changing Night at the Padres game on September 19, with more than 15,000 in attendance.

San Diego: Life. Changing. communicates San Diego’s evolving value proposition, driven by companies and people looking to change the world and upgrade their quality of life.                                                                                                               

“We’re not Boston, New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. And we don’t want to be,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “This campaign was developed by San Diego…and for San Diego to communicate the unique opportunities and experiences our region offers to companies and employees alike.”

Extensive research proves that talent fuels economic growth, drives corporate decision-making and fuels entrepreneurship. If San Diego wants to remain economically competitive, it must continue to attract a talent pool that appeals to global companies.

The launch of the campaign is the culmination of Phase I of a year-long effort to refine a cohesive identity to attract and retain STEAM talent in the region. Hailing from life sciences and tech industries, nearly 100 companies with a San Diego presence have joined the “San Diego Brand Alliance” including Illumina, Human Longevity, Inc., SONY, ViaSat, Intuit – as well as many startups – and have provided feedback on potential recruiting tools and other San Diego assets.

“San Diego holds such tremendous opportunities for candidates, yet when recruiting top talent from outside of the region we still encounter the false perception that career options here are somewhat limited,” said Melinda Del Toro, senior vice president of People & Culture, ViaSat and vice-chair, San Diego Brand Alliance. “The San Diego: Life. Changing. campaign reinforces the message we’ve been telling candidates for years: San Diego is a dynamic, rich environment with incredible opportunities to have both the career and life you want, that you just don't find in other regions.”

Over the next two years, San Diego: Life. Changing. will continue to build out SDlifechanging.org to include full company profiles, a video library and additional recruiting tools for companies. In 2018, EDC will look to partner with local organizations to deploy the campaign in specific markets across the country.

Learn more at SDlifechanging.org and follow along at #SDlifechanging. San Diego-based companies can request access to the recruiting toolkit online here.

 

Please see press kit and FAQs for additional information about the campaign. 

September 15, 2017

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases industry data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers August 2017 data, including unemployment, new business establishments and job postings.

Highlights include:

  • The region’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in August, unchanged from a revised 4.7 percent in July.
  • The unemployment rate was unchanged in every jurisdiction, with the exception of Carlsbad, which increased by 0.1 percentage points in August.
  • The region’s labor force grew again in August, adding 300 workers during the month.
  • Year-over-year, real estate, rental and leasing growth outpaced all other sectors, up 7.1 percent; an increase of 2,000 jobs.

Read San Diego's Economic Pulse here.

September 6, 2017

Amid global political gridlock and NAFTA renegotiations, talks on trade are booming more loudly than ever. At the forefront of such conversation is President Trump’s persistent push for U.S.-produced “Made in America” goods. While manufacturing remains a key component of the U.S. trade policy – accounting for 56 percent of total U.S. exports – Brookings’ newly released Export Monitor 2017 suggests a necessary shift in policy strategy. And counter to Trump’s strategy, regions like San Diego – where a growing share of exports are service-related – may reap the benefits.

Nationally, only eight of 35 major industries experienced export growth between 2014 and 2016, led by educational and medical services, management and legal services, commodities, travel and tourism, and the technology sector – noting a particular uptick in international attractiveness of U.S. universities and hospitals. That said, the report indicates that if current trends continue, services will surpass goods as the largest export category in 2020 within the 100 largest metro areas.

Taking a closer look at San Diego, a highly connected innovation economy, the report shows:

  • San Diego ranks as the 15th largest metropolitan region in the U.S. in terms of its GDP and the value of its real exports ($22.9 billion).
  • When comparing export intensity among the top 100 metropolitan regions, San Diego ranks 37th (9.9 percent) – this is up from 50th (10.03 percent) in 2014. 
  • A total of 134,350 jobs were supported by exports; 66,940 of which are direct jobs.

Manufacturing is an important part of San Diego’s economy and that will not change. However, With manufacturing exports on the decline and services exports on the rise, Brookings’ Export Monitor suggests challenges for President Trump’s “Made in America” agenda. The administration’s trade strategy cannot merely be a manufacturing strategy; it must also include promoting and expanding access for services exports. This means addressing barriers like physical presence requirements, local data storage mandates, temporary staff relocation restrictions, cross-border data flow constraints; it means continuing to confront discriminatory practices and offshoring, and technological advancement and workforce development that sustain regional competitiveness.

As an innovation economy, home to a world-renowned life sciences and defense ecosystem, services exports (think: IP) are among top priority in San Diego. And as the third most patent-intensive region in the world, connectivity to foreign markets – especially as it relates to sharing San Diego-made, life-changing technologies and discoveries with the rest of the world – and a balanced trade policy is make or break.

See more in Brookings’ full report, San Diego export scan and press release.