Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Big Picture San Diego Blog

March 13, 2015

MetroConnect Header

Go Global San Diego has laid out the facts. If San Diego wants to compete in a global marketplace, it must encourage companies to increase their global engagement. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has stepped up to the plate to catalyze small and medium sized enterprises to take their businesses to the rest of the world.

At the Go Global San Diego Summit on Wednesday, San Diego Regional EDC and JPMorgan Chase announced the MetroConnect Prize. MetroConnect will provide selected company with up to $10,000 in matching funds to cover up to 50 percent of the costs associated with the company’s next steps to going global.

Thanks to support from the JPMorgan Chase & Co., San Diego Regional EDC will award the MetroConnect Prize to at least 20 companies trying to take their innovative products abroad, secure strategic partnerships and boost international sales, that ultimately translates into increased economic activity in San Diego.

Deadline to apply is May 4. Head over to to learn more and apply.

March 10, 2015


"The numbers show that San Diego's economy is off to a great start in 2015. We're continuing to see the same accelerated year-over-year job growth that we saw at the end of 2014. Seasonal rise in unemployment might skew this result, but by nearly all measures, we're in a better place than we were last year."
Phil Blair, President and CEO
Manpower San Diego


NOTE: Due to the delayed release of  data by EDD, this post will be updated with charts once the full data set is released.

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. Click images to enlarge in a new tab/window.

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for the January 2015 period. The release reported that the San Diego County unemployment rate increased to 5.8 percent and jobs declined by 20,100 from December 2014. January jobs figures are generally prone to seasonal effects, as retail jobs descend back to normal after the holiday season.

San Diego County’s unemployment rate rose by 0.3 points to 5.8 percent from the revised December figure of 5.5 percent. However, the unemployment rate remained 1.4 points lower than it was a year prior. The unemployment rate in the region was 1.5 points below California’s 7.3 percent rate and 0.3 points below the U.S. average of 6.1 percent. The unemployment rate rose, but not as much as California or the U.S. average. As noted, the rise is seasonal, since year-over-year data shows the region is in a far better place than January of the previous year.

San Diego County lost 20,100 jobs from December to January, but added a total of 40,400 jobs since January 2014. This equals a job growth rate of 3.1 percent over the year, which eclipsed the U.S. total employment growth rate over the same period. Year-over-year data is a better indicator of economic growth since it controls for seasonal changes. Therefore, despite a seemingly alarming monthly decline, the region's economy is steadily growing.

Year-over-year job growth continued to be fueled by the private sector. San Diego County private businesses added 36,700 jobs since January 2014, a 3.4 percent growth rate. Private sector jobs accounted for 90.8 percent of year-over-year growth.

While most service-providing industries took a typical seasonal hit, goods-producing industries added 1,400 jobs from December to January. More importantly, goods-producers added 5,200 jobs from the prior year, a 3.3 percent growth rate. Construction added 2,200 job since the previous month and 4,200 jobs since the previous year, in large part due to the construction of new buildings. Meanwhile, manufacturing added 1,000 jobs since the previous year, 900 of which came from the region's critical ship and boat building sector.

Innovation sectors continued to show high job growth. The professional, scientific and technical services (PST) sector grew by 6.6 percent from January 2014 to January 2015, adding 8,300 jobs. This sector represents many of our innovation employers. More specifically, scientific research and development services, which represents many cleantech and life science companies, added 2,400 jobs since last January--7.8 percent job growth.

[Growth Chart]

Despite the potential headlines that will surround the rising unemployment rate and declining employment, the region is continuing to experience above average year-over-year growth. The region outperformed the state and nation in employment growth, and experienced a smaller seasonal unemployment decline. Employment continued to grow above three percent annually, a great sign as we move into the new year.

Note: Our Economic Indicators Dashboard along with a brief blog post will show how our unemployment rate compares to other US metros and the US total rate when that information is released in the coming weeks..

March 10, 2015


Didn't get a ticket to the sold-out Go Global San Diego Summit on March 11? You can tune in live, thanks to the UT.


  • What Mayor Kevin Faulconer is doing to increase the region's competitiveness in order to create jobs
  •  Why San Diego must adopt a global mindset, in a keynote presented by Bruce Katz, renowned urban thought leader from the Brookings Institution
  •  Where San Diego stacks up in our ability to attract investment from overseas and export company products
  •  What Qualcomm, Ajinomoto Althea, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, UC San Diego, and the Port of San Diego are doing to promote global business opportunities
  • How one company is planning to help other San Diego companies reach foreign markets

Tune in LIVE this Wednesday, beginning at 11:45 am on U-T. No prior sign-up required. Just head over to at 11:45am on Wednesday, March 11 to learn more about what 30 + San Diego organizations are doing to increase the region's global competitiveness.

Presented by


March 4, 2015

Leading up to San Diego’s Global Summit on March 11, we’ll be giving a rundown of some panelists, guest speakers and programs involved in the Summit every Wednesday.


Foreign direct investment inflows to the United States are big business. In 2012 alone, the U.S. attracted more than $160 billion in foreign direct investment, making our nation the world’s top destination for foreign direct investment. In 2011, foreign-owned companies in the U.S. were responsible for employing 5.6 million U.S. workers.

In San Diego, foreign direct investment supports more than 48,000 jobs, which pay an average of 30 percent more than industry average. Even though foreign owned firms in San Diego account for 5 percent of the region’s employment, they account for nearly 19 percent of all corporate R&D spending, 12 percent of the productivity growth, and 20 percent of the total goods exported.

The story of Althea Technologies, now known as Ajinomoto Althea, began in 1998, when Magda Marquet and Francois Ferre established Althea Technologies in San Diego and began developing plasmid kits and other related life sciences products. After 15 years of development and growth, the company was acquired by global Japanese manufacturer Ajinomoto Co. for approximately $175 million, which not only was a boon to San Diego’s economy, but also served to strengthen its ties to Tokyo and Japan.

Foreign direct investment from Japan in San Diego is a crucial part of the discussion when talking about our global competitiveness. Tokyo invests more in San Diego more than any other city, accounting for 13 percent of all foreign direct investment in San Diego. These investments bring capital, jobs and opportunities to the region and are important in supporting San Diego’s advanced industries.

Aside from explicit economic gains, these foreign ties will prove to be indispensable strategic partnerships for San Diego in the coming decades. Projections say that by 2030, 66 percent of the global middle class will be in Asia. Partnerships made in Asia today will undoubtedly pay dividends tomorrow. At the dawn of “America’s Pacific Century,” San Diego has the potential to be a national leader in the face of a changing economy.

On March 11 at San Diego’s Global Summit, Ajinomoto Althea and key leaders will launch the Go Global Trade and Investment Initiative.

The summit is SOLD OUT. You can catch the event live, starting at 11:45 am, courtesy of U-T San Diego. 

Join us as we formally launch the Go Global San Diego global competitiveness initiative on March 11. Subscribe here to receive new posts every Wednesday on this topic.

February 25, 2015

Qualcomm quote & image

There’s no better indicator for, or example of, San Diego’s global competitiveness than one of our very own Fortune 500 companies, Qualcomm.  

Qualcomm’s regional impact and global recognition offers the world insight into the broad scope and depth of San Diego’s economy. The company’s international presence adds credibility to other San Diego businesses to ensure they are globally competitive. 

Qualcomm has been a key factor in the healthy state of our region’s economy, and continues to prove itself as a globally competitive and highly innovative company.  Qualcomm contributes $4.53 billion in economic activity annually, which is the equivalent of one and a half 2012 London Olympic Games. The company’s economic footprint in the San Diego region includes almost 14,000 Qualcomm employees.  Additionally, each job created at Qualcomm supports three additional jobs locally. San Diego’s community is stronger thanks to the more than $85 million donated to local charities between 2000 and 2011.

The impact of Qualcomm is a vital component of our region’s economic growth highlighting the significance of exporting as an important component for San Diego businesses to thrive and reinforce the region as a global competitor.

Why should companies in San Diego go global?

Not only do global companies pay more and boost productivity through spillovers, global companies are able to quickly adapt with the changing national and global economy. According to a report by Brookings, “during the past five years, increased exports have been responsible for one-third of U.S. economic growth.”

Qualcomm has proved that our region is well positioned for global success. The business environment here in San Diego is bustling with companies that are highly marketable on the global scale. Qualcomm is just one of several local companies in the scientific and technical service industries, a sector that grew by 9% in our region throughout the course of 2014. In order to sustain and increase this growth, we must look beyond our borders, recognizing our ability to compete IN A global market.

On March 11 at San Diego’s Global Summit, Qualcomm and key leaders will launch the Global Trade and Investment Initiative.

The event is SOLD OUT. There will be a webinar available to those who cannot attend. Details to follow soon. 

Subscribe here to receive new posts every Wednesday on this topic.


February 24, 2015

Junior Achievement SDIf you’ve read our blog before, then this won’t be news to you: Across the globe, the classic recipe for economic development success has evolved. A high growth and innovative region, such as San Diego, no longer spends its days nipping at the heels of large corporations, hoping incentive packages will entice them to relocate its corporate headquarters to town. They know that the majority of growth will come from cultivating innovation and helping grow existing companies. These companies have many reasons for choosing San Diego, but one item usually trumps them all: the need for smart, highly-skilled workers.

Talent doesn’t just come to San Diego for then nice weather. It is also cultivated here: the region is home to some of the best universities and program in the world. However, if we want to ensure we have the workforce to compete in the global marketplace, we must engage students earlier.

Joanne Pastula is one person that gets this. As the president & CEO of Junior Achievement of San Diego County, she is working to make sure more than 53,000 K-12 students throughout San Diego have the entrepreneurial and business skills to get ahead in the real world.

This week, we sat down with her to learn more about how JA’s investment in students is paying dividends for our global growth plans.

1) Tell us about Junior Achievement.

Look at the young people around you. Do you think they’re ready to lead America’s Finest City? San Diego’s greatest resource is the next generation of young people.  It is our job to make sure they’re ready.

National surveys show nearly 60 percent of today’s teens don’t think they are ready to financially support themselves by the time they turn 24.  This lack of confidence is partially due to their apprehension about obtaining well-paying jobs.

To ensure the region’s continued growth and competitiveness, we need to cultivate tomorrow’s professional’s right here on our home turf. That is why Junior Achievement of San Diego works locally to impact 53,000 students in K-12 classrooms each year.  Our volunteer-based programs prepare kids for the real world by showing them how to get a job, start a business and how money works.

Why Junior Achievement thrives in San Diego

2)  What are some advantages to being located in San Diego?

Here in San Diego we have a lot to celebrate when it comes to our business environment and quality of life. Forbes recently named San Diego the No. 1 city in the United States to launch a small business in 2014. We also hold the distinction of being one of the top cities for STEM-related careers.  These distinctions give JA’s students access to some of the greatest minds and companies in the nation.  

A great example is our collaboration with AT&T. Through our JA Job Shadow program and the AT&T Aspire grant, we impacted hundreds of students from low-income families by giving them meaningful workplace experiences. Recently, students from The Monarch School and Hoover High spent a half-a-day touring the company’s technology, sales, data and retail centers to learn about career opportunities. This partnership teaches students how to look someone in the eye, shake their hand, as well as, gain the confidence to compete for a job in our global economy.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

We recently partnered with The Control Group (#TCG), the developers of and one of the fastest growing local startup tech companies, to teach students how to code.  The need for these high-tech skills is critical to the San Diego workforce. We are thankful to TCG for providing the opportunity to teach technological literacy.  

It highlights the wonderful work TCG does and how they are inspiring the next generation of STEM-focused career professionals.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

It is estimated 44 percent of millennials look at their phones more than six times an hour. We are embracing this by redeveloping curriculum onto a digital platform. Incorporating technology into student’s learning will help them make better connections, between what they learn in school, and how to apply it to the real world.

There is strong projected job growth in high-tech industries in San Diego. Despite high-demand in these fields, preparation is marginalized in our K-12 education system. We must change this. Moving forward, we must do more to help our students achieve their dream outside of the classroom by giving them meaningful workplace experiences. We invite you to help us prepare and inspire San Diego’s future leaders now and for years to come.

February 20, 2015

Retail study coverEDC, The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and City Councilmember Myrtle Cole's Office released a study on Thursday that revealed City Council District 4 residents face more than $1 billion in unmet retail demand,D1 study presenting an opportunity for retailers and developers in the region. The study analyzed data from the Nielsen Group to find that District 4 residents spent more than $1.9 billion on retail purchases in 2014. All sales made within the district, however, totaled only $889.6 million in the same year. This represents an unmet demand of more than a billion dollars—an apparent opportunity for investors.

"Imagine the possibilities. This could be Gaslamp East,” Councilwoman Myrtle Cole told the U-T and approximately 80 people who participated in a bus tour of the district.

To read the full report, click here.

For more information about development opportunities in District 4 and the recent bus tour, please contact Councilmember Cole's office here.



February 18, 2015

Recently, EDC released its December Manpower Monthly Employment Report. Since then, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released December employment data on all U.S. metros, which allows us to analyze some key indicators across geographies. Click on images to enlarge in a new window/tab.


  • At 5.2 percent, San Diego’s unemployment rate ranked 12th among the 25 most populous U.S. metros.
  • From December 2013 to December 2014, San Diego's unemployment rate fell by -1.3 percentage points, which ranked 9th.
  • San Diego's total employment grew by more than 3.3 percent from December 2013 to December 2014, which ranked 3rd.
  • San Diego's employment in professional, scientific and technical services (PST) grew by 9.0 percent, the highest growth rate among major U.S. metros.
  • Manufacturing in San Diego grew by 4.1 percent from the previous year, the 3rd highest growth rate.

[Employment Chart]

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released employment data for the December 2014 period for all U.S. metro areas. When looking at employment growth, San Diego was among the best in the nation. From December 2013 to December 2014, the region's employment grew by more than 3.3 percent, which ranked 3rd among the 25 most populous U.S. metros. The U.S. average growth rate was at only 2.3 percent. San Diego has consistently outpaced U.S. employment growth this year and has been one of the most competitive metros in the nation.

[Unemployment Chart]

At 5.2 percent, San Diego County’s unemployment rate fell by 1.3 points from this time last year. The unemployment rate fell 0.6 percentage points in one month, the 2nd largest drop during that period. That fall brought San Diego's rank to 9th among major U.S. metros and placed it below the U.S. overall rate of 5.4 percent.

[PST Chart]

San Diego's innovation economy is largely driving the region's growth. The region is outpacing all other major metros in professional, scientific and technical services (PST) growth. PST is a sector of the economy very heavily associated with the region's innovation clusters. Much of the companies and employment in clusters like biotechnology, biomedical products, cleantech and information technology fall within the PST sector. Employment in the region's PST sector grew by 9.0 percent since last December, the most out of any metro studied here. This figure was more than double the U.S. average and more than a full point more than 2nd placed Houston, which is a positive sign for the region's key traded clusters.

[MFG Chart]

We continued to see more  impressive growth in San Diego's manufacturing sector. Manufacturing is another key industry for growth in the region, not only because manufacturing jobs are accessible and pay well, but also because certain manufacturing subsectors are critical to the region's innovation clusters. From December 2013 to December 2014, manufacturing employment grew by 4.1 percent. San Diego's manufacturing employment grew at more than twice the rate of the U.S. (1.8 percent), and recorded the 3rd highest growth rate among major U.S. metros. 

We now have data for the full 2014 calendar year, which allows us to analyze non-seasonal annual average growth from calendar year to year. We covered how positive the local numbers were in detail in our most recent Manpower Monthly Employment Report, but it is important to understand San Diego's growth relative to its peers. San Diego's annual average employment growth from 2013 to 2014 ranked 9th, and rather substantially outpaced the U.S. average. Perhaps more importantly, key innovation sectors far outpaced peers and picked up even more in the latter months of the calendar year. PST services had the 2nd highest annual average growth from 2013 to 2014 at 5.7 percent, while manufacturing had the 8th highest annual average growth rate. Both key sectors far outpaced the national average. San Diego appears to be on solid economic footing heading into 2015.

EDC will be releasing the Manpower Employment Report with January 2015 data for San Diego on Friday, March 6thThank you to Manpower-SD for their ongoing support of EDC's employment trends research. Edit: Date was previously listed incorrectly as February 20th, 2015.

February 17, 2015


If you want to know the future of San Diego or any region for that matter, talk to someone in commercial real estate. Whether a company is looking to expand into the market or increase their local footprint, a commercial real estate firm is the first to know. 

As one of San Diego’s largest commercial real estate firms, CBRE is helping San Diego companies realize their innovative potential.

This week, we spoke to John Frager, executive managing director at CBRE San Diego, to learn more about how the firm helps local companies and the advantages of doing business in the San Diego market.

1) Tell us about CBRE.

It’s an exciting time at CBRE as we invest in the platform and our people. For many other companies, their operating platform is seen as just a business expense; a requirement to keep the doors open and the lights on.  At CBRE, our leadership has a different vision. Our platform is an offensive weapon, a resource that can give our professionals an advantage in the marketplace and help us consistently create great client outcomes. We’re investing to become world class in our research, technology, marketing, learning and development, and workplace strategies departments. We often downplay the importance of being the biggest firm in our industry. But our size, scale and profitability give us the capacity and the willingness to invest in our platform. CBRE’s capabilities extend broader and deeper than any other real estate services provider, offering unparalleled tools and resources, leverage, credibility, market coverage and local expertise.  

2) What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?

Why CBRE Chose San Diego

In a nutshell, San Diego has an innovative culture populated by a highly educated workforce with an unsurpassed quality of life. It is an ideal place to live and work! We are already a leader in life sciences, wireless communications, sports innovation, unmanned systems, cybersecurity, medical devices, and now even beer! I believe we will learn a lot from the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project from the Brookings Institution and JP Morgan Chase, to increase productivity, exports and foreign investment into our region. We are a gateway city to Asia with more direct flights. San Diego is also the gateway to our expanded Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region. Our region is a great place to do business.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Illumina is a great anchor company, but we are equally excited about early stage companies like Edico Genome and BioSpyder Technologies. BioSpyder is an early stage molecular profiling company developing and marketing TempO-Seq for targeted expression profiling, a technology that will enable researchers to economically measure the presence and quantity of 1000’s of molecular target across millions of samples. Innovation like this will ultimately help companies like Craig Venter’s Human Longevity, Inc. pursue their specific missions more economically.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

Today, we are unquestionably the industry leader however we do not take this for granted and we continue to strive to truly be a world-class enterprise. We have an enviable client base, unparalleled service lines and a geographic footprint with the willingness and ability to invest in long term growth strategies. We transform real estate into a real advantage by putting our perspectives, scale and connections to work to deliver exceptional outcomes through real estate solutions that drive value and growth.  We deliver advantage though perspective, scale and our connections.

It is important to distinguish between client service and client outcomes. Providing excellent service to clients is a given – something they expect from any firm. We’re working to be a truly extraordinary firm, so we must deliver more than good service. We need to produce exceptional outcomes that create real advantages for our clients and help them to advance their own strategic agendas.

San Diego’s economy will continue to strengthen. The CRE market is doing well, achieving levels not seen since before the recession and CBRE will continue to strive to be the market leader providing our clients world-class service. 

February 11, 2015

Leading up to San Diego’s Global Summit on March 11, we’ll be giving a rundown of some panelists, guest speakers and programs involved in the Summit every Wednesday.

JPMorgan quote & image

1,300 employees, 900,000+ consumer customers, and more than 66,000 small business clients in the San Diego region:  JPMorgan Chase’s incredible community involvement and collaboration ensures San Diego companies and organizations have the tools necessary to promote job growth and secure investment for the region.

JPMorgan Chase has been one of the key drivers behind the Global Cities Initiative. From the funding of the BEAM Kentucky Export Promotion Grant to arming local businesses and community leaders with the information they need, JPMorgan Chase successfully assists companies throughout the nation to go global.

For example, in the case of San Diego’s global trade and investment initiative, no other business has supported its successful implementation more than JPMorgan Chase. Through JPMorgan Chase’s major contributions, the global trade and investment initiative will enable San Diego companies to reach markets around the world by exporting or receiving foreign investment. In addition to providing companies access to global markets, this initiative will also provide companies with a roadmap to better understand the exporting process by  identifying organizations to work with and other important information empowering San Diego companies.

“The strategies outlined in San Diego’s global trade and investment initiative will help our region’s employers realize their export potential and strengthen our position as a hub for international investment,” said Brennon Crist, head of JPMorgan Chase’s Middle Market Commercial Banking group in San Diego. “As we invest in the future of San Diego, we hope our commitment will serve as an example of the impact that the private sector can have on local and regional economic development.”

JP Morgan Chase, EDC and other key partners will announce San Diego’s global trade and investment initiative during  San Diego’s Global Summit on March 11 (sold out).  Without the generous support from JPMorgan Chase, the execution of the initiative’s programs would not be possible.

In the coming week, EDC will announce details for a live webcast of San Diego’s Global Summit. Stay tuned to learn more about San Diego’s global trade and investment initiative.    

Join us as we formally launch San Diego's Global Summit, a global competitiveness initiative, on March 11. Subscribe here to receive new posts every Wednesday on this topic.