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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Economic Drivers

July 18, 2018

It's Comic-Con week, San Diego. Whether you’re one of the 135,000 attendees or you’re just heading downtown to people-watch, Comic-Con has the power to turn the mundane into the magical - if done right. The international convention has a $147.1 million regional economic impact, and spurs 57,7000 hotel room nights. And in an attempt to attract attendees from outside of the region to live and work here, San Diego: Life. Changing. is hosting a Comic-Contest on social media and is even setting up a skylight downtown. Location hint: it smells like chocolate and looks like a hipster's closet....  See below for a Comic-Con how-to guide.

How to Comic-Con

  1. Don’t be afraid to walk. All of downtown San Diego will be jam-PACKED with cool activations on buildings, buses, trolleys, street corners, our sunny skies, and bars/restaurants galore. Parking far away might not be such a bad thing.
  2. Download Ace Parking app. If you’re one of the many people who weren’t quick enough to get the sold-out Comic-Con parking spaces, you can download the free Ace Parking app to see where all of the available public parking spots are at. Thursday morning is usually the most challenging time for parking, since many people will be trying to navigate around downtown for the first time. Just be patient and embrace it.
  3. Or take the Trolley. The SDCCU Stadium (Formerly Qualcomm Stadium) is an easy and convenient alternative to braving downtown in a car.  For the small price of a trolley ticket, you can park and enjoy a ride to and from downtown, most likely seated next to your favorite superhero and villain.
  4. Wear comfortable close-toed shoes and socks. We get it. It’s San Diego, and people wear flip-flops here. But Comic-Con draws thousands of people into downtown San Diego. That means the streets, sidewalks, and any other surface will be taken up by people walking every which way. You are most likely to get stomped on and/or will be walking a couple miles. Wear your comfy shoes and you’ll be thankful later.
  5. Embrace the lines. Lines are everywhere. For the panels, the crazy cool photo ops, and especially at all of the nearby restaurants and bars. It’s okay, just hop in and know that whatever you’re waiting for will be worth it. The people-watching alone will surely set your spirits back up.
  6. Know your way around. A lot of time can be wasted by trying to navigate around the crowds. Don’t be that lost soul, desperately in need of an iced coffee but can’t figure out where to get it. Do your homework to know where you’d want to get food/drinks from and where they are located in downtown. Also note that Harbor Drive will be closed for the first time this year. The Convention Center put together some helpful maps, so you don’t drive around like a newb.
  7. Have fun! This is a time for you to explore everything nerdy with people all around who share that same passion. From comics to tabletop games to movies to books, it has everything. Talk to people in lines, make friends. Who knows, you could meet your new BFF...or roommate for when you finally take the San Diego plunge.

The fun doesn't have to end with Comic-Con. Enter the #ComicContest

We've teamed up with local illustrator Jon Condry (@joncondry) to develop custom-made pins, in the spirit of San Diego: Life. Changing.  So head to IDW Publishing's booth #2743 (did you know they were a San Diego-based company?) to collect one. And keep a lookout for San Diego: Life. Changing.'s street team (@bernoraptor & @bree_burris) this weekend for another shot. Follow @SDlifechanging on Twitter, where they'll keep you up-to-date on their location.  Then, once you have your hands on one of these exclusive pins, head over to our one of our social channels - @SDlifechanging in case you were wondering - and post it. Check out sandiegolifechanging.org/comiccontest/ for more details and info. And check out #ComicContest to see some posts.

And if you want to start your job search today, head over to the company map to learn about some of our companies that are hiring.

Good luck, and don't forget your sunscreen.

July 13, 2018

San Marcos-based MetroConnect company Ocean Reef Group proves just what we mean by San Diego: Life. Changing. 

When twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a partly flooded cave, the diving equipment company quietly stepped in behind the headlines. On its own accord, Ocean Reef shipped thousands of dollars worth of full-face dive masks to Thailand to be worn by the young boys as they escaped the cave. After a two-week ordeal, all team members survived and were successfully extricated. This is how #SDlifechanging gets to work.

More details here.

July 6, 2018

The California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) is an income tax credit program available to California businesses expanding or relocating to the state of California. Negotiated by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), the California Competes Tax Credit program has awarded more than $600 million in credits to nearly 1,000 California companies since the program’s inception in 2014. In FY17-18 round alone, the state granted more than $194 million in credits.

Each year, the state grants a series of tax credit awards over three rounds: November, April, and June. The completion of the June 2018 round marked the end of the FY17-18 program. Throughout the three rounds of FY17-18, credits were awarded to more than 182 California companies, which are projected to create more than 15,000 jobs and invest more than $2 billion in the state over the next five years.

In the FY17-18 program, 33 San Diego companies were awarded more than $24.4 million in tax credits for the creation of 1,900 new jobs and investments totaling $151 million in San Diego. Compared to other metros in California, San Diego claimed more than 33 percent of the total credits for the fiscal year, the second highest amount of credits in the State.

Businesses are separated into small and large business categories, and more small businesses in San Diego won credits than large. Throughout the fiscal year, 17 small businesses were awarded more than $6 million in tax credits. These small companies will create nearly 300 new jobs and invest $60 million into the local economy over the next five years. More than 22 percent of credits in the small business category we’re awarded to San Diego companies.

One of those small business recipients in the latest round, Urban Translations, was awarded $750,000 in credits for commitments to create 61 new jobs and invest $144,000 in San Diego, with consulting provided by EDC and WTC San Diego. Based in Point Loma, Urban Translations is a local startup that creates digital, interactive menus for the hospitality industry - available in any language. The company recently landed partnerships with Samsung and Google, positioning the company for rapid growth. Samantha Urban, the company’s CEO, intends to leverage savings from the Tax Credit program to convert many of her part-time employees to full time positions to support long-term growth in San Diego.

The next application round for the California Competes Tax Credit program will open Friday, July 30. For more information regarding the California Competes Tax Credit program or with assistance on your application, contact Jesse Gipe, senior economic development manager, EDC.

 

June 27, 2018

So far, 2018 has been a year of transition for EDC. Research performed through a partnership with the Brookings Institution led us to some startling findings about how inequality and affordability pose a threat to the San Diego region’s economic competitiveness. These findings helped to build a case for if and how an economic development organization (EDO) can play a role in region-wide efforts to promote an inclusive economy. Organizations across San Diego have been working for decades with much avail to elevate underrepresented populations, bolster small businesses, and improve quality of life for more local residents. But where does an economic development organization fit in?

For more than 50 years, EDC has been the voice of the business community – lauding the accomplishments of our life sciences, tech, and defense industries. The success of San Diego’s innovation economy has positioned the region for sustainable growth, but in an economy nearing full employment, even the most cutting-edge businesses struggle to find and retain the workers they need to remain competitive.

A strong economy is an inclusive economy, in which residents, businesses, and communities all have the opportunity to contribute and reap the benefits of growth. Over the last quarter, a regional steering committee, supported by technical advisory groups, has embarked on an ambitious effort to develop and drive an agenda that points the region toward a more inclusive economy, and thus, a stronger economy. This agenda will articulate the economic imperative for taking action, identify broad regional goals, and provide concrete recommendations around three pillars of influence: building a strong local talent pipeline, increasing small business competitiveness, and increasing affordability. This process is one that will not be accomplished overnight, but here’s an update on EDC’s progress, followed by some engagement opportunities for those ready to take action now.

Progress update:

  • Inclusive growth steering committee: made up of more than 40 leaders representing academia, nonprofit, and private sector. The steering committee convened for its second gathering to set a regional target for the first pillar of the inclusive growth strategy: building a strong, local talent pipeline. This regional target aims to increase the number of post-secondary degree holders by 2030. Details to come.
  • Advisory group on a creating a strong local talent pipeline: To arrive at this target for building a strong local talent pipeline, the steering committee was informed by an advisory group of 15 subject-matter experts, who met for three working sessions in Q2. These sessions were filled with data-driven discussions on skills, workforce requirements, demographic shifts, and more to help the steering committee arrive at a regional target.
  • Advisory group on small business competitiveness: To begin strategizing for the second pillar of this effort, the advisory group on increasing small business competitiveness met in Q2, as well. To inform this process, EDC, in partnership with the Small Business Development Center, has deployed a mass small business needs assessment survey to better understand challenges facing small business owners. The small business advisory group will analyze survey results to inform a regional target for increasing small business competitiveness. Take the survey here.

Engagement opportunities:

Building an employer-led coalition on inclusive growth will take time and collaboration across multiple industries, nonprofits, academia, and philanthropy. EDC is working hard with our partners and stakeholders to ensure we remain thoughtful and strategic in addressing these regional challenges. That said – we understand you may be tired of talking and ready to take action. Below are just a few opportunities to engage.

  1. Provide a San Diego small business the opportunity to increase its competitiveness through a free coaching program by nominating a small business for the Inner City Capital Connections Program, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.
  2. Help us better understand the challenges facing our small businesses by taking the small business needs assessment survey.
  3. Showcase career paths for San Diego’s students by hosting a virtual tour as a part of Cajon Valley School District’s World of Work program or contact Ed Hidalgo, Chief Innovation and Engagement Officer at Cajon Valley Union School District - hidalgoe@cajonvalley.net.

We’re just getting started; much more to come. Learn more.

By Kate Gallagher, economic development coordinator

June 21, 2018

In the past two decades, San Diego County Water Authority has invested more than $2.4 billion in five major water reliability projects. A new study released by EDC in partnership with the San Diego County Water Authority, quantifies the impact these investments have on our broader economy. These projects have generated $4.8 billion in total economic impact, supporting an average of 1,475 jobs annually over two decades and creating more than $1.8 billion in local wages and salaries.

The report also found that access to safe and reliable water supplies supports $482 million in total regional sales of goods and services daily – equivalent to the economic impact of nearly three Comic-Cons every day.

In addition, the report shows that more than 2,800 people work in the water and wastewater sectors at the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies. The water industry provides career opportunities across all levels of educational attainment, in everything from customer service to engineering. 

SDCWA has kicked off the "Brought to you by water" campaign to share the impact of water across multiple industries. 

 We all know that water is essential for the viability of our communities, but we often take that for granted and that is a luxury,” said Janice Brown, chair of the EDC’s Board of Directors.  “Without the infrastructure: pipelines, dams, treatment plants - we would not have reliable water. Reliable water makes us economically competitive."  

You can find the full study here: http://www.sandiegobusiness.org/sites/default/files/Water%20Study%202018.compressed.pdf
 
If interested in an economic impact analysis of your company or project, get in touch with EDC's research team

 

June 15, 2018

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases industry data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers May 2018 data, including unemployment, new business establishments, and job postings.

Highlights include:

  • The region’s unemployment rate was 2.9 percent in May, unchanged from April’s revised rate, and 0.8 percentage points lower than a year ago – the lowest since January 2000.
  • The majority of jurisdictions saw a decrease in unemployment rate from the month prior. Only National City saw its unemployment rate rise, an increase of 0.1 percentage points to 4.0 percent.
  • The labor force grew slightly, adding 900 workers during the month, up 0.1 percent. The labor force is now up 4,300 compared to a year ago, or 0.3 percent.
  • The largest increases came from leisure and hospitality, which added 2,100 jobs. Education and health services saw the only employment declines of any industry group, contracting by 300 jobs.


Read the Economic Pulse here.

May 29, 2018

Due to regularly occurring seasonal effects, San Diego, and the overwhelming majority of the most populous metros, experienced a decline in employment during Q1 2018 (January - March). Leaving the holiday season behind, the region’s total nonfarm employment declined 7,300, or 0.5 percent. Compared to a year ago, nonfarm employment was up 27,000, or 1.9 percent.

Meanwhile, San Diego’s unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in Q1, the lowest the region has seen in the last 17 years and down from 3.3 percent in Q4 2017.
 

More key findings from the Q1 Economic Snapshot:

  • San Diego closed Q1 with an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent and the third lowest among the 25 most populous metros, up four spots from the previous quarter. 
  • Following an addition of 9,500 jobs in Q4 2017, the trade, transportation, and utilities supersector decreased by 11,200 jobs in Q1, the largest quarterly loss. The majority of these jobs were lost within the retail trade sector as seasonal employees transitioned out.
  • Year-over-year, the San Diego region’s median home price continued to climb, growing by 8.2 percent.
  • VC dollars in the region increased 60 percent compared to a year ago.

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 releases includes data from January to March (Q1) 2018.

Read the full Econonic Snapshot here.


May 18, 2018

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

Highlights include:

  • The region’s unemployment rate was 2.9 percent in April, down 0.3 percentage points from March’s revised rate of 3.2 percent, and 1.0 percentage point lower than a year ago.
  • Every jurisdiction saw a decrease in the unemployment rate from the month prior.
  • The labor force contracted slightly, shedding 5,900 workers during the month; the seventh decline of the past 12 months. The labor force is now down 1,800 compared to a year ago.
  • Total nonfarm employment increased by 14,100, or 1.0 percent, in April. Compared to year ago, total nonfarm employment is now up 32,100, or 2.2 percent
  • Get the details in the full Economic Pulse here.

May 15, 2018

A San Diego genomics giant is acquiring a San Diego genomics startup. Does it get any better than this?

Recent #SDinUK delegate company and biotech startup Edico Genome has been acquired by local genomics giant Illumina in a deal worth $100 million.

Edico Genome’s DRAGEN Bio-IT technology uses field programmable gate array chips in conjunction with proprietary software algorithms for rapid analysis of genetic data produced by DNA-sequencing machines. It means the time it takes to sequence your genome is drastically expedited. 
 
Our acquisition of Edico Genome is a big step toward realizing the vision of reducing sequencing data acquisition and analysis to a push-button, standardized process,” said Susan Tousi, SVP of product development at Illumina. 
 
The San Diego roots in this deal run strong. Like many great San Diego startups, Edico Genome was a graduate of local incubator EvoNexus. It has also received funding from Qualcomm Ventures. President and CEO Pieter Van Rooyen was also a co-founder of EvoNexus alum EcoATM prior to working with Edico Genome.
 
Earlier this year, on the heels of EDC's 2017 U.K. trade mission, Edico Genome and Genomics England announced a partnership to strengthen the accuracy and consistency of next-generation sequencing (NGS) data analysis in Genomics England’s Rare Disease Pilot.
May 10, 2018

With a continued commitment to growing San Diego’s reputation as a hub for innovation, the City of San Diego, City of Chula Vista and San Diego Regional EDC announced that San Diego has been selected to participate in a new program by the U.S. Department of Transportation to advance the testing of unmanned aircraft technology, grow the innovation economy and create jobs.

“From wireless technology to human genomes, San Diego is renowned for its innovative spirit and talent that can’t be matched anywhere else,” Mayor Faulconer said. “This designation brings together some of our brightest minds in local government and private industry to develop cutting-edge technologies that are going to take robotic and aerial innovations to the next level.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program” is an opportunity for state, local and tribal governments to partner with private sector innovators, operators and manufacturers to accelerate the development of drone technology. 

“The City of Chula Vista is proud to be a regional partner with the City of San Diego and the industry leaders that support the innovation around Unmanned Aircraft Systems deployment,” said Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. “This unique opportunity will help the City design, develop and test drones to support police officers and fire fighters during emergencies.”  

The program will inform the Department of Transportation about the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in our skies. Key objectives of the program include:

  • Working closely with private sector partners to advance commercial unmanned aircraft system operations and applications for technology
  • Obtaining expedited Federal Aviation Administration approval for airspace authorizations
  • Demonstrating operational solutions that reduce the need for waivers
  • Incorporating community participation for meaningful dialogue for unmanned aircraft systems operations

San Diego’s local program will include projects like flying medical specimens from UC San Diego for expedited results and cost savings, testing food delivery from restaurants to consumers using Uber, enhancing public safety by deploying drones to incident scenes in advance of first responders and testing the integration and communication between driverless cars and unmanned aircraft systems.

“This announcement proves San Diego companies, organizations, academics, government and non-profits are exceptionally well-positioned to advance the adoption into the national airspace,” said Lauree Sahba, Chief Operating Officer for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. “Not only does this program elevate San Diego as a research and development hub, but it also brings enormous potential to our economically diverse region.”

The City of San Diego’s Homeland Security Department was the lead program applicant, with more than 20 regional organizations signing on to support the submission, including EDC. The full list of partners:

  • San Diego Regional EDC
  • Qualcomm
  • City of Chula Vista
  • AT&T
  • Palomar College
  • California Governor’s Military Council
  • California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz)
  • Uber
  • Intel
  • Coleman University
  • GE Ventures
  • UC San Diego Health
  • Port of San Diego
  • Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
  • San Diego Law Enforcement Coordination Center
  • Verdego Aero – Provides urban transportation market with safe, clean and quiet hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that can fly piloted or autonomously.
  • Airmap – Connects airspace authorities with drones to provide safe and efficient drone operations
  • Cape – Offers a cloud-based system for drone telepresence and data management
  • Matternet - Provides drone technology and ground infrastructure to help healthcare systems transport blood and pathology samples between hospital facilities
  • Avitas Systems – A GE Ventures-affiliated company that offers robotic-based autonomous inspections and data analytics focused increasing safety and efficiency
  • Infragard San Diego – FBI-affiliated nonprofit focused on mitigating criminal and terrorist threats to protect regional infrastructure

This collaboration led to San Diego being among only 10 agencies nationwide chosen to participate, including the states of Kansas, Virginia, Alaska and North Dakota and the cities of Reno and Memphis.

“We are eager to work with our partners and the U.S. Department of Transportation to promote nationwide Unmanned Aircraft Systems innovation and integration,” said John Valencia, the City’s Homeland Security Director. “This pioneering program will foster capabilities that will greatly enhance the safety and security of San Diego residents, particularly in the areas of effective Unmanned Aircraft System operations by public safety organizations, and resilient communications during emergencies and in times of crisis.”

This announcement follows a similar designation by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which selected the San Diego region as one of 10 autonomous vehicle testing sites in the nation in 2017. The designated testing sites form a national community that share information and collaborate with the private sector to advance the safe development of unmanned vehicles.

“We are looking forward to helping today’s winners unlock the enormous potential of drone operations, which will create new services and jobs in their local communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.