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Economic Development 101

May 18, 2015


We all have to start our career somewhere. And that ‘somewhere,’ whether it’s running the local paper route or dipping cones at the local ice cream shop, has a strong impact on the rest of our careers. While these first jobs may not uncover one’s lifelong passion, they often do translate into invaluable skills you carry with you for the rest of your career.

That’s one reason why CONNECT2Careers (C2C), a youth summer employment initiative administered by the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP), has launched the #MyFirstJobSD video campaign. To raise awareness for the need to increase youth employment in San Diego, C2C asked a number of prominent San Diegans to reminisce about their first job—what it was, what it taught them and what advice they would give their younger selves. The result is a series of short, inspiring #MyFirstJobSD videos. Featured San Diegans include Mayor Kevin Faulconer, NBC 7 anchor Marianne Kushi, San Diego Regional Chamber CEO Jerry Sanders, and State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. New videos will continue to be released through June.

“The #MyFirstJobSD campaign is meant to remind us what our first job meant to us and encourage the opening of doors to our future workforce,” says Peter Callstrom, CEO of SDWP. “Summer employment through C2C is a great way to gain experience and for employers to invest in the up-and-coming talent pool.”

C2C encourages San Diegans to use social media to spread the word about the #MyFirstJobSD campaign, share your first job story using the hashtag, ask others what their first job was, and keep the conversation going. 

May 8, 2015

Recently, EDC released its March Manpower Monthly Employment Report. Since then, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released March 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 5.1 percent, San Diego’s unemployment rate ranked 11th among the 25 most populous U.S. metros.
  • From March 2014 to March 2015, San Diego's unemployment rate fell by -2.0 percentage points, which ranked 3rd.
  • San Diego's total employment grew by 3.1 percent from March 2014 to March 2015, which ranked 10th.
  • San Diego's employment in professional, scientific and technical services (PST) grew by 7.2 percentwhich ranked 3rd.
  • Manufacturing in San Diego grew by 1.5 percent from the previous year, the 9th highest growth rate.

[Unmployment Chart]

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released employment data for the March 2015 period for all U.S. metro areas. At 5.1 percent, San Diego County’s unemployment rate fell by 2.0 points from this time last year. This was the 3rd largest drop in the nation, among the 25 most populous U.S. metros. That fall brought San Diego's rank to 11th among major U.S. metros and placed it below the U.S. overall rate of 5.6 percent.  

[Employment Chart]

When looking at employment growth, San Diego was above the national average. From March 2014 to March 2015, the region's employment grew by 3.1 percent, which ranked 10th 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 among the top 10 competitive metros in the nation.

[PST Chart]

San Diego's innovation economy is largely driving the region's growth. The region is outpacing nearly 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 7.2 percent since last March, the 3rd most out of any metro studied here. This figure was roughly double the U.S. average and only behind California peers San Francisco and Riverside, which is a positive sign for the state and region's key traded clusters.

[MFG Chart]

San Diego's manufacturing sector growth has slowed in recent months. 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 March 2014 to March 2015, manufacturing employment grew by only 1.5 percent. San Diego's manufacturing employment growth was just below the U.S. rate of 1.6 percent. The region recorded the 9th highest growth rate among major U.S. metros. Clearly, manufacturing has slowed in most major metros across the U.S. outside of Detroit, Denver and Portland, so this is not a sign unique to San Diego. However, it will remain important to track manufacturing in the coming months to see if growth accelerates.

While overall employment growth and growth in our manufacturing sector weren't comparatively stellar, the region's economy is still generally tracking well above the U.S. average and many of its peers. Unemployment is lower than average and experienced one of the largest annual drops in the nation. Meanwhile, our PST industry continues to be among the fastest growing in the nation.

EDC will be releasing the Manpower Employment Report with April 2015 data for San Diego on Friday, May 15thThank you to Manpower-SD for their ongoing support of EDC's employment trends research.

May 1, 2015

In an effort to further the region’s global competitiveness, a delegation of San Diego business leaders will be heading to London next week to increase existing synergies between one of San Diego’s most important international partners.  Building on existing relationships, the delegation will host the London premiere of National Geographic’s “World’s Smart Cities: San Diego” documentary, meet with key companies with San Diego ties, and promote opportunities in industries that matter most to San Diego’s competitiveness such as life sciences and connected health.

The San Diego – London ties run deep. Findings from the Go Global San Diego Initiative, released in March 2015, confirmed just how intertwined the two regions' economies are.  Collectively, the U.K. accounts form 25 percent of all foreign employment, or 12,340 jobs in San Diego. Some of these major London-based companies with San Diego ties include BAE Systems, Cobham, GlaxoSmithKline and Mirum. San Diego is also home to Cubic, a transportation innovator that powers London’s OysterCard system.

Key agenda highlights from the mission include a UC Alumni Event Showcase, where UC San Diego Dean Al Pisano will lead a discussion with UC alumni working and living in London to activate stronger ties in the life sciences, telecommunications, cybersecurity and software engineering sectors. The delegation will participate on a joint panel about driving down the cost of healthcare (arranged by Biocom and its UK counterpart, OneNucleus) and visit “The Catapult,” London’s urban innovation lab that aims to strengthen quality of life, economies and the environment in cities around the globe. While overseas, the delegation will also meet with key partners and companies including the U.S. Embassy in London, British Airways, BAE and Ebsta.

The trip builds off exciting exchanges between the two regions. London is the first international city to join the Global Cities Initiative (GCI), a joint project between the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase, which works to help leaders reorient their economies towards greater engagement in world markets. San Diego has been a member of the GCI since Fall 2012. This affiliation has incubated a strong relationship with London + Partners, the economic development arm of the city of London. In February, Mayor Faulconer joined London Mayor Boris Johnson at the Brookings Institution  in D.C. to discuss how these two regions can strengthen their global connections.

The delegation includes:

  • Al Pisano, Dean, Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego
  • Andrew Lee, President & CEO, ESET
  • Diane Law, Parachute Marketing
  • George Guerra, Vice President, HALE Enterprise Strategic Ventures, Northrop Grumman
  • Hampton Brown, Director, Air Service Development, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
  • Iris Magid, Director of Industry Engagement and University Relations, UC San Diego
  • Jennifer Landress, Senior Vice President & COO, Biocom
  • Joe Terzi, President & CEO, San Diego Tourism Authority
  • Joe Timko, Director of Public Relations, San Diego Tourism Authority
  • Julian Parra, Senior Vice President & Market Executive, Global Commercial Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Kerri Kapich, Senior Vice President of Marketing, San Diego Tourism Authority
  • Lauree Sahba, COO, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation
  • Neva Parker, Head of Laboratory Operations, WhiteLabs
  • Phil Blair, President & CEO, Manpower San Diego & Chair, San Diego Convention Center
  • Robert Brownlie, Managing Partner, DLA Piper & Vice President, UC San Diego Alumni Board of Directors
  • Robert Gleason, Chairman of the Board, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
  • The Honorable Scott Peters, Congressman (CA 52)
  • Sean Barr, Vice President, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation
  • Shelley Lyford, COO, West Health Institute & President, Gary & Mary West Foundation
  • Thella Bowens, President & CEO, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
  • Vince Mudd, Chair, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation
  • William Burfitt, Executive Director of Development, UC San Diego

If you’re a company that wants to increase its engagement with foreign markets – such as London – apply for the MetroConnect prize. Thanks to the generosity of JPMorgan Chase, EDC is providing select San Diego-based companies with up to $10,000 in matching funds to help with each company’s next steps in going global. The deadline is Monday at noon.  

Follow the conversation at

April 24, 2015

While San Diego is known to the rest of the world as “America’s Finest City,” it also happens to be one of the world’s smartest cities.

At least that’s the way the National Geographic Channel sees it. San Diego is featured in Nat Geo’s “World’s Smart Cities” documentary, a one-hour documentary special uncovering what makes this unique city one of the most innovative, forward thinking cities across the globe. The documentary begins airing tomorrow on the Nat Geo Channel at 8 a.m.

In anticipation of tomorrow’s public premiere, we’ve pulled together 9 reasons Nat Geo calls us a Smart City.

Here it goes:

  1. We don’t just drink beer, we make it too.

    Home to nearly 100 craft breweries, San Diego is serious about suds. But it’s not just about drinking it; it’s also about brewing it. In the documentary, you’ll meet Neva Parker, director of laboratory operations at White Labs, who talks about cultivating brewer’s yeast, a key ingredient in the brewing process.
  1. Our grid is smart.

    Today, 32 percent of San Diego’s electricity is renewable, and there is no coal in SDG&E’s energy portfolio. Jim Avery of Sempra Energy discusses the Smart Grid which increases the use of renewable energy and helps manage the region’s power.
  1. Our port makes us a  “plug-in.”

    Speaking of clean energy, the Port has fully switched to a shore-power system that improves air quality and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by allowing cargo vessels to "plug in" rather than run their diesel engines while in port.  You can catch some sweeping views of the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal in the documentary.
  1. We cultivate the innovators of the future.

    Most San Diegans know the story of Qualcomm, the region’s largest private-sector employer, but what many people in San Diego (and across the world) don’t know is about their focus on cultivating future leaders. In the documentary, Host Andrew Evans visits Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™, equal parts innovation lab and art studio, that provides students from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in San Diego with access to hands-on experiences in engineering. They are ensuring San Diego remains a “smart city” for generations to come.
  1. We’re home to one of the smartest universities in the world…and they just created the world’s first algae-based surfboard.

    UC San Diego campus is one of the top 15 research universities in the world and is an innovator nationally in solar and other renewable technologies. At the California Center for Algae Biotechnology, which host Andrew Evans visits, UC San Diego researcher Stephen Mayfield is turning pond scum into fuel for the next generation of transportation. He also turned this pond scum into the world’s first algae-based surfboard, which he showed off at the San Diego premiere Tuesday evening.
  1. Innovation is in our DNA.

    When it comes to the field of genomics, San Diego is second to none. Evans pays a visit to Illumina, the first company that cracked the $1,000 genome challenge, to get his DNA mapped by Chief Medical Officer Rick Klausner. Illumina was called the “World’s Smartest Company” ahead of Samsung, Google and Tesla by MIT Technology Review. It’s no coincidence the “World’s Smartest company” is headquartered in one of the “World’s Smart Cities.”
  1. We make the things that go where no man can go.

    From the frozen Arctic to the coast of Africa, the Northrop Grumman-built NASA Global Hawk has flown all over the globe conducting unprecedented scientific and environmental missions. Evans explores San Diego’s dynamic aerospace industry through the eyes of Northrop Grumman, where he has the opportunity to meet with George Guerra, an unmanned aircraft expert.
  1. Lifesaving innovations are applied to multiple fields.

    SeaWorld is more than just a theme park operator – they’re also an innovator. In the documentary, we meet Todd Schmitt, senior veterinarian at SeaWorld, who discusses SeaWorld’s Zoological Stem Cell Bank Initiative which contributes to the scientific advancement of stem cell use in marine species and has the potential to replace drugs in the treatment of many chronic diseases, especially in older animals.
  1. Our people care.

    San Diego resident Rob Machado is a surfing hall of famer and legend. Yet rather than focusing on his sport and why it’s important to the culture of San Diego, he chose to focus on the volunteer work that he and others are doing through the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to help children with disabilities learn to surf, develop confidence in themselves and connect with the ocean and nature.

It’s easy to see that San Diego is more than just the beach. Make sure not to miss out on the full picture, see why we’re one of the “World’s Smart Cities.” The program will air Saturday, April 25, 8-9 a.m., and Saturday, May 2, 8-9 a.m., on the National Geographic Channel.

April 21, 2015

National Geographic Channel features San Diego, one of only four cities in the world and the only U.S. city on the list, in its acclaimed documentary series “World’s Smart Cities”. San Diego was chosen for its strong technology sector, local innovators, green practices, smart public planning and an unparalleled quality of life. Other selection factors included San Diego’s size of population, demographics/cultural diversity, livability, economy and business climate, educational institutions, leadership and strong sense of community.

The documentary will be shown in over 60 countries reaching approximately 250 million households world-wide.

Watch the trailer...

Watch the premiere on:

National Geographic Channel



Current Show Schedule (based on country feed)

Country Date Air Time
United States April 25, 2015 8:00 AM (All Time Zones)
  May 2, 2015 9:00 AM (Check your local listings- may vary by time zones)
Australia May 7, 2015 18:30
  May 10, 2015 12:00
  May 12, 2015 10:30
  May 15, 2015 14:30
  May 19, 2015 8:30
Brazil May 8, 2015 19:00
  May 9, 2015 15:00
  May 17, 2015 13:00
  May 23, 2015 18:30
  May 25, 2015 15:00
China May 22, 2015 TBD
France May 9, 2015 18:30
  May 11, 2015 23:55
  May 14, 2015 8:40
  May 17, 2015 12:50
  May 23, 2015 10:20
Germany May 5, 2015 23:55
  May 6, 2015 10:05
  May 8, 2015 9:15
  May 9, 2015 14:25
  May 10, 2015 8:25
  May 11, 2015 13:45
  May 13, 2015 9:15
  May 14, 2015 8:25
Italy May 4, 2015 17:00
  May 8, 2015 18:00
  May 9, 2015 10:00
  May 11, 2015 12:00
  May 16, 2015 10:00
Japan May 10, 2015 20:00
  May 15, 2015 16:00
  May 19, 2015 8:00
  May 20, 2015 15:00
  May 24, 2015 19:00
Korea May 6, 2015 19:00
  May 7, 2015 8:00
  May 9, 2015 11:15
  May 10, 2015 12:00
  May 13, 2015 10:00
Russia May 4, 2015 17:00
  May 8, 2015 11:25
  May 9, 2015 18:00
  May 10, 2015 8:50
  May 11, 2015 11:25
Spain May 5, 2015 18:10
  May 10, 2015 9:30
  May 16, 2015 11:15
  May 20, 2015 18:10
  May 24, 2015 10:20
United Kingdom May 8, 2015 17:00
  May 9, 2015 8:00
  May 10, 2015 9:00
  May 10, 2015 0:00
  May 11, 2015 8:00


The documentary features leading companies and institutions that are based in San Diego and provide world-class research, education, and innovative technologies. We thank them for their participation and support of this project.


April 17, 2015

Download a printable version

"San Diego's labor market has really hit its stride. The unemployment rate is at a seven year low and two full percentage points lower than a year ago. More than 30,000 people who were unemployed have found employment in the past year, and the labor force continues to grow. Job growth has been led by key middle-to-high-wage industries like construction, health care, education, manufacturing and scientific services. These are great signs as we move ahead in 2015."
Phil Blair, President and CEO
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. Click images to enlarge in a new tab/window.

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for the March 2015 period. This month’s data shows that unemployment was down again in March as the economy continued to grow at an increasingly solid pace.

The unemployment rate is likely the big story again this month since at 5.1 percent, it is the lowest it has been in nearly seven years (April 2008). This is 2.0 points lower than the previous year and 0.2 points lower than the previous month. San Diego’s unemployment rate remained below the U.S. average of 5.6 percent and well-below the California average of 6.5 percent. The region also experienced labor force growth. More than 3,000 people were added to the region's labor force from March 2014 to March 2015, indicating that the continued drop in unemployment is likely due to a healthy economy rather than a dwindling labor force.

[Unemployment Chart]

When looking at monthly or seasonal employment, San Diego County employers added 8,000 jobs from February to March. Construction accounted for a quarter of this monthly growth, adding 1,500 jobs from February to March. Tourism , health care and private education industries also experienced high seasonal growth, while retail and wholesale trade experienced slight seasonal declines.

From a year-to-year or non-seasonal perspective, the region’s economy is showing signs of picking up the pace. Total non-farm employment grew by 40,900 jobs from March 2014 to March 2015­—a 3.1 percent growth rate. This exceeds the U.S. growth rate of 2.3 percent. In all three months to date in 2015, the region recorded annual job growth of more than three percent, compared to 2014 when not a single month exceeded three percent annual growth.

[Employment Chart]

The private sector economy accounted for 92 percent of the year-to-year job growth and grew by 3.4 percent. This rate also outpaced the U.S. growth rate, which was 2.7 percent over that same period. This job growth continued to be fueled by key sectors. Construction jobs grew by 7.4 percent and added 4,600 jobs. One of the region’s key manufacturing sectors ship and boat building grew by 18.7 percent and added 1,100 jobs. 

Innovation service sectors also continued to show high job growth. The professional, scientific and technical services (PST) sector grew by 7.2 percent year-to-year, and accounted for approximately a quarter of the job growth. This sector represents many of our innovation employers. More specifically, scientific research and development services, a subsector of PST that represents many cleantech and life science companies, grew by 8.4 percent since last March.

[PST Chart]

The region’s tourism continued to show high year-to-year growth as well. The leisure and hospitality industry added 7,300 jobs over that period, which is about 4.3 percent growth. Food service and drinking places accounted for 7,000 of those jobs. Private and public education services experienced high seasonal and non-seasonal growth. Education services added 1,400 year-to-year jobs (4.5 percent growth) while state and local government education added 2,500 year-to-year jobs (3.0 percent growth).

The March labor market report was all around positive. Low unemployment, high job growth and a growing labor force are all excellent signs of burgeoning regional economy. More importantly, this growth continues to be driven by key sectors to the region's economy. Continued rapid growth in construction indicates that regional builders are constructing important infrastructure to address a growing economy. Furthermore, the region's key high-wage and innovative sectors are driving private sector growth. The region is far outpacing the state and nation in these important metrics, all good signs for the year ahead.

[Growth Chart]

Note: Our Economic Indicators Dashboard 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.

April 8, 2015
Every quarter, San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic metrics that are important to understanding the regional economy and San Diego’s standing relative to other major metropolitan areas in the U.S. This issue covers data from the October 2014 to January 2015 quarter.
In this issue, EDC presents updates on trends in employment, real estate and venture capital, with a special spotlight on wage growth. The spotlight investigates whether job growth occurred in high-wage industries.
Download the full snapshot to view all of the tables, graphs and trends for this quarter. 


The snapshot is made possible by 

Chase Logo

March 26, 2015


Canada: one of San Diego’s largest export markets and one of San Diego’s top 10 sources of foreign investment.

Canada: one of four international destinations of which our international airport has direct flights.

When your region has a full-time consul corps representing their country, you know your region must have strong trade connections. This is apparent even more so when you look at one of the consulates which have a full-time presence here: Canada.

The Canadian Consulate in San Diego, spearheaded by Lisa Stockley, represents one of San Diego’s largest trading and investment partners. Having a strong partnership with the consulate ensures that businesses in the region have access to critical support for their endeavors of expanasion into Canada. Additionally, it provides San Diego the visibility so Canadian businesses can learn about the regional economy and expand here.

Canada is the 6th largest source of foreign employment in San Diego. From wireless communications with Blackberry, to computer equipment manufacturing with Sierra Wireless, and gaming accessories manufacturing with Mad Catz, Canadian businesses encompass many aspects of San Diego’s economy. The diversity of Canadian companies doesn’t just span industries, it also encompasses companies at all stages; Not only do larger companies locate to San Diego, but startups in Canada have begun to realize the potential for growth. Koriist, a software developer for military communications, is currently housed in the downtown startup incubator EvoNexus.

Not only do smart companies from Canada want to trade with San Diego, but so do the people. According to a report published by Beacon Economics, more than 13,500 of the residents in San Diego County were born in Canada, making them the 7th highest immigrant population in the region. These residents are highly-skilled workers, with more than 42 percent of these them holding a Bachelor’s degree, compared to about 35 percent of the region as a whole. Not only are these residents smart, but they work primarily in some of the region’s most innovative companies. The sectors with the highest concentration of workers for Canadian-born residents are healthcare and the professional, scientific, and technical industry – key sectors which represent the innovation economy.

Having a consulate or any foreign office in San Diego representing their diverse and important workforces and business communities strengthens our economic bonds with our foreign partners. Luckily, the Go Global San Diego initiative aims to establish two additional foreign offices in San Diego as part of its main goal to maximize the region’s economic competitiveness and prosperity through increased global engagement.

To gain more information about Go Global San Diego go to and learn about the trade and investment initiative, MetroConnect, and many other important tools to help businesses go global. 

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March 25, 2015

With California Aerospace week underway in Sacramento, we wanted to take a look at how San Diego contributes to this thriving cluster. The industry counts itself among the  “aerospace, navigation and maritime technologies cluster,” which directly employs 35,000 in the region at an average annual wage of nearly $84,000. In an effort to bolster job creation in the industry, LAEDC and San Diego Regional EDC were in Sacramento earlier this week to meet the new chairs of the Assembly and Senate select committees on aerospace.

Aerospace has a long history in San Diego, dating back to the early 1900s when Ryan Airlines built the Spirit of St. Louis and Reuben Fleet brought Consolidated Aircraft Corporation to Lindbergh Field. Since then, San Diego’s aerospace cluster has been an integral part of the region’s innovation and defense economies.

Here are a few things you may not have known about the region’s thriving aerospace industry:

  1. They're not all "manned."
    Illustrating some of the dynamic uses for unmanned system.
    Illustrating some of the dynamic uses of unmanned systems. Clockwise from top left: Drone used for newspaper delivery (The Atlantic), prepping a wildfire- fighting drone for launch (The New York Times), simulation of a lifeguard/lifesaving drone (AUVSI), agricultural drone used for pest control.(
    Pilot-less aircraft, or unmanned air systems/drones, are revolutionizing the world. From the drone hobbyist to military contractors, San Diego’s diverse terrain, military expertise, and talented workforce have put us at the epicenter of drone manufacturing.

    Like many great innovations (e.g.  the internet), drone technology originated in the military, but has broad applications. From fighting wildfires to crop dusting and delivering crucial medications to people in disaster-inflicted areas, drones are another example of how San Diego works to solve some of the world’s hardest problems.

    A 2013 study by AUVSI found UAS integration in California would create 18,161 jobs throughout the state within a decade of airspace incorporation.

  2. The largest aerospace manufacturer in the state has a presence here.
    Nat Geo host Andrew Evans explores Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk during filming of the documentary
    Nat Geo documentary host Andrew Evans explores Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk during filming of the documentary.
    Defense Innovator Northrop Grumman – the Golden State’s largest defense company -  has 3,087 employees in San Diego, according to the SDBJ. Recognizing the region’s strengths in UAS technology, the company consolidated its Unmanned Center of Excellence to its Rancho Bernardo location in 2013.

    Northrop Grumman is featured in the upcoming Nat Geo “Smart Cities” documentary about San Diego (stay tuned for air dates).
  3. Baja California contributes to the region’s aerospace dominance.
    Calibaja Manufacturing
    A manufacturing facility in Baja California.
    As Mayor Faulconer likes to say regarding the San Diego – Tijuana relationship, “We’re two cities, but we’re one Mega-region.” This is particularly true when you look at the aerospace sector. Despite a recent decline, Baja California’s stronghold in aerospace manufacturing still reigns supreme, boasting more jobs in that sector than any other Mexican state.
  4. We’re getting ready to release the largest economic impact study about the aerospace industry the region has ever seen.
    Members from San Diego Regional EDC and LAEDC gather with legislaters in Sacremento to show support for the state's aerospace industry
    San Diego Regional EDC and LAEDC gather with legislators in Sacramento to show support for the state's aerospace industry.
    San Diego Regional EDC is working collaboratively with LAEDC to launch an aerospace economic impact study that will quantify the nine counties that make up Southern California. The study will help articulate how Southern California’s aerospace industry competes on a global level.

March 20, 2015

Strong Workforce TownhallA businessman, an educator and a politician walk into a room.

There’s no punchline here. In many other regions – that don’t count collaboration as a strength – this may be the beginning of a counterproductive encounter. In San Diego, this is how we find solutions. At the Strong Workforce Town Hall held at Illumina on Wednesday, business people, educators, economic and workforce development professionals, and politicians gathered to address how the region will close the impending skills gap.

California Community Colleges play a vital role in preparing workers for jobs and strengthening the economy. Wednesday’s conversation was part of a series of ‘town hall’ style meetings held throughout the state to help California’s dynamic community college system close the skills gap.

The facts are alarming: by 2020, there will be 6.3 million job openings in the state of California. If we want to remain a center for innovation, we must have the workforce to get us there.

So how do you prepare the 2.1 million students in California for tomorrow’s workforce?

Strong Workforce Townhall


Sunny Cooke, president of Mira Costa College and chair of the State’s Strong Workforce Task Force, said we must rethink the three fundamental ‘R’s:

  1. Relationships: Perhaps the most crucial component, the community colleges must develop stronger relationships with employers.  Rick Urban, COO at Quality Control Manufacturing in Santee, said that his business depends on having, strong, skilled workers. With the help of East County EDC and coordination with community colleges, he was able to develop a pipeline to recruit and train technical talent.

    Up in Oceanside, Genentech seeks to work with the community colleges to find the medical device manufacturing and R&D talent it needs to succeed. "We need an agile and flexible workforce,” said Adria Harris, an HR representative at the company. The good news is lawmakers are already beginning to adapt. A pilot program will give community colleges throughout the state the opportunity to begin offering bachelor’s degrees in select programs next year. Based on workforce needs, Mira Costa College was recently approved to begin offering bachelor’s degrees in bio-manufacturing.
  1. Resources: Financial resources are always going to be an issue. As a state (and region), we must get creative with how we fund these crucial job training programs. It’s not only about identifying new resources, but also figuring out how to redirect resources that make sense for industries – such as maritime and biotech – that have a strong presence in the region.
  1. Re-thinking the Rules: As a state-run agency, bureaucracy will always be a part of the community college system. However, Cooke encouraged administrators and policy makers to think creatively about these regulations.

San Diego’s  – and California’s – leaders must work in earnest to find, develop, and enhance our workforce pipeline. As California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris says, “our global competitiveness depends on it.”

All pictures are courtesy of the San Diego Workforce Partnership