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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

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, UC 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.  

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.

August 18, 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 July 2017 data, including unemployment, new business establishments and job postings.
 
Highlights include:
  • The unemployment rate increased 0.4 percentage points to 4.7 percent in July.
  • Unemployment increased in 19 out of 19 jurisdictions. Imperial Beach saw the largest increase of 0.6 percentage points.
  • The region’s labor force grew again in July, adding 12,500 workers during the month.
  • Year-over-year, real estate, rental and leasing growth outpaced all other sectors, up 4.9 percent; an increase of 1,400 jobs.  
 
Read the Economic Pulse here.
August 17, 2017

In partnership with the Cyber Center of Excellence and SPAWAR, EDC coordinated a two-day tour for 40 DoD Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from the U.S. and allied nations. The tour is part of an annual best practices trip led by the U.S. to help military and intelligence agency CIOs learn about new commercial technologies in cyber, artificial intelligence, machine learning and nanotechnology. This was the first time that this group has selected San Diego for a best practices trip, typically traveling to Silicon Valley, Boston and New York instead.

The San Diego tour kicked off with an hour and half long conversation hosted at Qualcomm by their CEO Steve Mollenkopf, discussing the impacts of 5G technology. This was followed by a whirlwind of technical presentations from local companies AttackIQ, Qubitekk, Websense, Illumina, FICO, KnuEdge and iboss along with leadership from UC San Diego. Several companies who presented are now working on new projects with key agencies as a direct result of this trip.

 

August 16, 2017

Following seasonal declines in employment during Q1, San Diego experienced an increase in employment during Q2 2017. The region added 14,100 jobs - a 0.98 percent increase in employment during the quarter. Year-over-year, the region added 27,800 jobs, increasing employment by nearly 2.0 percent.

Meanwhile, San Diego’s unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points during Q2, but is 0.6 percentage points lower than the same period a year ago.

Other key findings from EDC's Quarterly Economic Snapshot include:

  • San Diego closed Q2 2017 with an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent, the 15th lowest among top U.S. metros and below the national and state rates of 4.5 and 4.9 percent, respectively.
  • With the summer tourist season approaching, the leisure and hospitality sector recorded the largest quarterly gain, adding 9,300 jobs during Q2.
  • The median home price rose 7.3 percent from the previous quarter, and is now up 8.0 percent compared to a year ago.
  • VC dollars in the region increased 14.9 percent compared to the previous quarter.

The Quarterly Economic Snapshot analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. This release includes data from April to June (Q2) 2017.

Read it here.