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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Economic Drivers

June 21, 2016

First, Germany. Now, Switzerland. Q2 was chock-full of global wins for San Diego. The San Diego International Airport recently announced a new nonstop service to Zurich, Switzerland. Edelweiss, a Swiss leisure carrier owned by the German airline Lufthansa, will operate flights between the two cities on Mondays and Fridays starting in 2017.

As part of EDC’s efforts to increase San Diego’s global competitiveness, EDC and World Trade Center San Diego (WTC San Diego) worked in partnership with the San Diego Tourism Authority to support the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in bringing Edelweiss’ nonstop seasonal service to Switzerland. Making the case for San Diego, WTC San Diego provided data and research on economic ties to the European innovation hub.

 Why Switzerland matters to San Diego:

  • Switzerland ranks third among all nations for the most foreign employment in San Diego.
  • Swiss companies such as Novartis and Genentech call San Diego their home.
  • In 2011, more than 50 percent of all Swiss employment entered San Diego through M&A activity.

Airport Authority CEO Thella Bowens said that with the addition of the flight, San Diego will have direct service to six countries and add to the list of foreign airlines operating out of Lindbergh Field.

June 14, 2016
This week, the Worth Group announced that San Diego has been named as a 2016 “Worth Destination.” Featured in the June/July issue of Worth magazine, San Diego is among 15 cities lauded for civic leadership, quality of life, business climate, sustainability, entrepreneurial community, cultural offerings and urban innovation.
 
After months of deliberation and research by Worth's editorial team, San Diego was chosen for its burgeoning technology and life sciences ecosystems, powerful cross-border manufacturing economy, unparalleled infrastructure and world-class cultural institutions.
 
“San Diego has long been famous for its incredible natural beauty and beautiful weather,” says Richard Bradley, Worth’s editor in chief and chief content officer. “But thanks to its close and mutually beneficial relationship with Mexico, its status as a global hub with a particular emphasis on Asia, and its world-class scientific community, San Diego is also an economic powerhouse.” “Recognition like this from a magazine as prestigious as Worth shows that San Diego’s reputation is shifting,” says Joe Terzi, President and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. “The city is becoming known for more than beautiful scenery. Showcasing San Diego’s innovation, creativity and strong business sector is vital not only for attracting new companies and talent to the marketplace, but it is also key for attracting top conferences and business travelers, which are a critical part of the local tourism economy.”
 
“From advancing the human genome to developing cutting-edge military technologies, San Diego is a leader in global innovation,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO at San Diego Regional EDC. “Worth provides San diego with a powerful platform to tell our story to important audiences around the world.” Focused on entrepreneurship, wealth management, philanthropy, travel and lifestyle, the Worth media brand includes print, digital, broadcast and radio channels as well as the bimonthly magazine Worth. The full list of Worth Destination cities will be announced on June 21. The June/July issue of the magazine featuring San Diego will be available on newsstands beginning June 28, 2016.
May 17, 2016

By Jesse Gipe, manager, economic development

In partnership with more than a dozen organizations across San Diego County including the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC), EDC has established Operation San Diego, a strategy to support our military and defense assets in the region. As part of these efforts, I had the opportunity to attend the largest gathering of senior military officials ever hosted by the Governor’s Military Council (GMC) earlier this week. The two-day Defense Summit provided military leaders, support organizations, state agencies and elected officials an opportunity to discuss how to address some of the critical needs of bases and the personnel they house.

While in San Diego it can be hard to forget the impact of our military in our day to lives – with a $45 billion impact to our GRP – other areas in California do not share our military concentration. Recognizing the need for a strong voice from California in support of the military, and through efforts led by both SDMAC and EDC, Governor Brown established the GMC. The all-volunteer board members of the GMC form an impressive roster of retired flag officers from every branch of the DoD and Coast Guard. This group of well-respected former military leaders have answered the Governor’s call to serve on the council and lend their collective expertise to ensure that California is proactively supporting the military in DC and at the state level.

Kicking off two days of activities, the GMC hosted their quarterly board meeting attended by Governor Brown on Tuesday. The council, led by Chair Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, discussed the GMC’s strategy to support bases and personnel in California. 

After the GMC’s board meeting, nearly 40 active duty commanders and military personnel including some of the state's most senior commanders such as Brigadier General Edward Banta, Commander of Marine Corp Installations West and a strong contingent from Navy Region Southwest flew in to participate in a full day of workshops on Wednesday. In addition to the military leadership approximately 50 individuals from base support organizations such as SDMAC’s Executive Director Randy Bogle and other key agencies like SANDAG were also in attendance.

The workshops were designed to help bases and the communities supporting them identify solutions to address several common issues. These issues primarily revolve around the military’s needs for reliable and secure energy, the impact of the drought on water reliability, the demand for new creative funding partnerships to address budget shortfalls caused in part by sequestration, and of course how to help service members transition back into civilian life.

This message has certainly resonated with Governor Brown, who reiterated the significant role of the military in his remarks to the GMC: “There is a very important connection, because without the defense contracts, the aerospace contracts in California wouldn't be where it is today.”  Military bases across California not only continue to provide vital national security missions for the United States; they have been pivotal in the establishment of some of our state's most vibrant industries.  Most notably, of course, would be aerospace, but bases like SPAWAR in San Diego have created groundbreaking technologies such as radar, that have helped spur commercial innovation in a wide variety of industries.

Events like this provide unique value for San Diego as we strive to maintain and enhance what has always been one of our region’s critical economic and cultural pillars: the military.  EDC will continue to work closely with the GMC, regional partners including SDMAC, the State of California and in Washington DC to make sure that as our region continues to support the military.  

May 5, 2016

With over 3.2 million people and nearly 1.5 million jobs in the San Diego region today, San Diego’s extensive network of highways, roads, rail lines and public transit serves as the backbone of our economy. Essential for the movement of people and goods in and around the region, transportation infrastructure strengthens the regional economy and promotes future economic growth. Expansions and enhancements to roads, highways and public transit reduce congestion, decrease travel times and increase business productivity and overall economic competitiveness.

First approved by voters in 1988, TransNet – the region’s half-cent sales tax – has funded a variety of local transportation projects including roads, highway, public transit and active transportation. Since its inception, nearly $3.3 billion in funds collected by TransNet have been leveraged with nearly $10 billion more from federal, state and local funding sources to deliver more than 650 projects throughout the region. EDC released an economic impact analysis of TransNet, which reveals how investments in transportation over the last 25 years have impacted San Diego’s economy.

Key findings:

  • TransNet has a $20 billion economic impact.
  • 650 projects have been completed to date, including 6,500 acres preserved as open space.
  • Every $1 collected in TransNet taxes results in a $1.70 increase in the region’s GDP.
  • TransNet supports 5,300 jobs annually and has contributed $9 billion in total local wages.
  • Regional benefits from infrastructure investment include 12.4 million hours of commute time savings and $500 million in travel time savings annually.  

Read the analysis here.

April 27, 2016

By Nikia Clarke, Director, World Trade Center San Diego

WTC San Diego is on the road again, with a focus on deepening channels of connectivity between global cities around trade, investment, innovation and thought leadership (as well as herring, it turns out).

I spent last week in Stockholm, Sweden, participating in a Brookings/JPMorgan Chase Global Cities Forum. San Diego joined the Global Cities Initiative (GCI) almost four years ago, led by WTC San Diego founding partners—the City of San Diego, San Diego International Airport and the Port of San Diego—and followed by more than 30 other metros. Stockholm is now joining the GCI and drafting its own internationalization strategy. Together with four other GCI representatives, I spoke on panels and participated in working groups convened by Brookings, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and CONNECT Sweden to share San Diego’s experience of building a data-driven trade and investment strategy backed by a regional coalition of partners.

And, as is always the case with these Brookings Metro Exchanges, it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn from our peer cities. Philadelphia’s Economy League, together with their very active WTC, just launched a regional export plan, leveraging service provider networks to reach exporting firms. In London, the Mayor’s office and London & Partners are linking with private sector multinationals to create opportunities for 800 SMEs in new markets. Minneapolis-St. Paul has built strong regional economic development infrastructure that drives significant foreign investment to their bi-city region. World Business Chicago has been leading an effort among dozens of counties to move from competition to collaboration in a metro region that is one of the country’s largest foreign investment destinations.

At the close of the forum, the Chamber—along with the Mayor, Governor, Airport Authority and other public and private sector senior leadership from the region—launched Team Stockholm to drive the effort forward. As the CEO of AstraZeneca—an English-Swedish firm that is the seventh largest pharmaceutical company in the world—spoke to the group about the importance of global connectivity, on the other side of the world, his company inked a deal with San Diego’s Human Longevity Inc. to sequence more than 500,000 genomes and analyze samples from clinical trials. Indeed, competitiveness is all about connectivity.

So how do we continue to grow this kind of connectivity here in San Diego? Turns out Stockholm is the perfect place to reflect on this question, which is why innovation economy experts, like our own Mary Walshok, have been building linkages between our two regions for decades. Stockholm and San Diego have a lot in common: we are both metro regions of 2-3 million with world-class research ecosystems, strong life sciences, telecomm and technology sectors and we happen to be two of the top three most patent intense regions in the world. It is why as you drive down the road you see big names in our region that are also big names in Sweden: Thermo Fisher, Kyocera, Trinity Biotech, Ericsson, JLabs among others.

And in both our cities, so much of the innovation ecosystem is driven by SMEs—which in both San Diego and Stockholm make up around 95 percent of all companies—and the ways in which they are able to engage with large firms and global networks. I visited a number of the institutions that incubate, accelerate and commercialize technology in the region and there is much we can learn from Stockholm.

The Karolinska Innovation Institute spins life sciences and pharmaceutical discoveries out of the university research hospital. Sting—a city-university-private sector collaboration that runs a network of incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces in the region—is launching a new digital health accelerator program that will launch firms into international markets.

EpiCentre is an innovation house founded as a temporary experiment in a downtown high rise awaiting redevelopment last year. Now it has 600 members—large tech corporates, entrepreneurs and everything in between—who run incubators, accelerators, hackathons and labs. As companies grow and scale they move through the flexible, diverse office spaces throughout the building. It will anchor plans for an expansive downtown redevelopment with hotels, restaurants and office space all linked by aerial walkways. Too cool, right?

I had the opportunity to continue these conversations with a brief stopover in London on the way home to visit co-working spaces, tech hubs and San Diego company Cubic’s new transit innovation centre. Cubic already moves 10 million people around London every day as the operator of the Underground’s oyster card payment system. But here they are working with universities, transport providers and entrepreneurs on what’s next for the ever smarter, safer cities of tomorrow? (hint: it might involve talking holograms and buying your ticket with the veins in your hand

One of WTC San Diego’s primary mandates is to grow opportunities both for local firms in overseas markets, and for foreign ones investing in our region. To this end we’ve spoken with more than 400 investors in Japan, taken a group of water tech companies to England and France and are about to select our 2016 cohort of MetroConnect firms. As we reflect on what’s next for our region in terms of boosting our global competitiveness, it is clear that international innovation networks are critical. Certainly some great lessons were taken from this trip: creating great spaces, collaborating with diverse partners and being a little wild and very flexible.

As always, at each stop we were sure to leave behind one of San Diego’s best exports: Stone Brewing Co. craft beer—this time the Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. No wonder they like us.

Cheers to Stockholm and London, and see you soon, San Diego. 

April 15, 2016

Joining forces to make a binational push to promote innovation, trade and jobs within the San Diego-Tijuana Mega Region, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazarán welcomed more than 50 high-level leaders from Brazil, Mexico, Canada and South Korea and other countries from across the globe to San Diego for the Fifth Americas Competiveness Exchange (ACE V).

Organized by the World Trade Center San Diego, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Organization of American States, ACE V – a three-day tour of San Diego – made stops at iboss, Qualcomm, UC San Diego and more. As part of the visit, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the participating countries signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to support initiatives that promote trade and investment partnerships, stimulate job creation and eliminate barriers to commerce.

“We’re proud of the role that we’re playing in fostering innovation, collaboration and technology. It’s part of the DNA of what’s happening here in San Diego,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “This is in fact part of what I think makes this region special, when we talk about the relationship that we have for investment, for our business communities, for our start-up communities. You will not find a region that collaborates better than this region.”

March 4, 2016

Phil Blair

Download a printable version
 

“The local economy picked up steam in January after slowing a bit toward the end of 2015 – a typical trend as seasonal, holiday jobs phase out. Key sectors like manufacturing, construction, engineering, and health care all posted outstanding figures this month. These trends are also reflected in the demand for staffing services, which posted seven percent growth in employment in January.”
Phil Blair, Executive Officer
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

 

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for the January 2016 period, as well as revisions for 2015. This month’s data shows that San Diego's labor market fundamentals remained strong, as unemployment continued to fall amid solid and steady job growth.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in January, the lowest since September 2007. The rate is down 0.1 points from the revised December number and 1.2 points from the previous year. The San Diego rate remained much lower than the statewide unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. The national unemployment rate rose substantially to 5.3 percent, well above the San Diego rate. The rate dropped in part due to a typical seasonal decline in the labor force from December to January, but the annual labor force increased by 6,100, with 16,900 fewer unemployed persons since January 2015.

Employment dropped back below 1.4 million in January, but seasonal declines are typical after the holiday season. More importantly, year-over-year employment went up by 38,200, a 2.8 percent increase. San Diego’s growth rate was again much higher than the 1.9 percent national rate. While the year-over-year growth slowed as 2015 progressed, the growth rate climbed again in January, which is a positive sign of momentum in the region.

The private sector drove employment growth in January, as private employment accounted for 90.3 percent of all employment growth over the year. The total private sector grew by 3.1 percent year-over-year, out-pacing the private U.S. growth rate of 2.2 percent.

Private growth was driven largely by service providers, but goods producers experienced another strong month. Manufacturers and construction companies drove 24.0 percent of private job growth in January. The two industries added a combined 8,300 jobs in January. The manufacturing industry in particular had a very strong month, posting 3.4 percent growth, compared to the national growth rate of 0.4 percent in the industry. Revisions showed that 2015 was an even stronger year than previously understood, with an annual 2015 growth average of 3.7 percent.


Professional, scientific, and technical (PST) services, which is strongly associated with the region’s innovation economy, slowed substantially in January, but it is unclear if there are complications with the EDD revision. Prior to the revision, the industry showed6.6 percent growth in 2015. With revisions, that growth is only 1.9 percent. It is unclear if job growth previously categorized as PST was moved to another sector like manufacturing or management, as national revised figures don't show the same dramatic shift. Architecture and engineering, a subset of PST services, showed solid growth of 5.1 percent despite the overall PST figure.

Other key drivers for growth included the region’s healthcare sector, which added 7,100 jobs and accounted for roughly one fifth of the region’s private job growth in January. Tourism experienced strong year-over-year growth, adding 5,900 jobs and contributing to 17.1 percent of growth.

In all, the January report released today showed many continued positive signs for San Diego's economy. The dramatic adjustment to PST employment raises some questions, and we will have to wait and see what was behind this revision by EDD. Otherwise, the region posted another month of solid yearly job growth, in large part due to the booming manufacturing and construction industries. Unemployment fell despite statewide and nationwide increases, and growth was spread out across a variety of key high-wage and base sectors in the region.

This report was performed with assistance from the CBRE research team in San Diego.

 

March 3, 2016

By Matt Sanford, director of economic development

As I fly over Palmdale and glance down at one of the last large aerospace manufacturing facilities in the Southern California, it is a reminder that the aerospace industry as a whole is experiencing dramatic change. Some of the large industrial centers still exist and are highlights of the heritage of the industry. But the landscape as a whole is changing.
 
San Diego is the place where Charles Lindbergh built the Spirit of St Louis and since then, Southern California has been at the forefront of aerospace innovation. Today, it continues to be a hub for innovators looking to push the envelope. But instead of erecting more large manufacturing facilities, we will see this innovation in entrepreneurs and startups, in tech companies that are entering the industry, and in legacy industry leaders who are pioneering new technologies, and driving convergence with other tech sectors to create new capabilities.
 
Now, we are creating new sensors and systems to push the envelope even further. The James Webb Space Telescope being developed by Northrop Grumman in El Segundo will give us the most comprehensive look at the universe to date. The technology developed at ViaSat in Carlsbad is creating the fastest satellite broadband available to the public. San Diego is also home to Brain Corporation, 5D Robotics and the Center of Excellence for Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems division. These companies, among others, are creating systems that will work autonomously to take on the dull, dirty and dangerous tasks that put people, both services members and private citizens, at risk.
 
So how do we quantify this activity? Through a report by the Los Angeles County EDC and San Diego Regional EDC covering the eight county Southern California region, we learned there are over 85,000 direct jobs in our aerospace industry. The total employment impact is nearly a quarter million people and it’s growing. In San Diego County alone, the industry has grown by 66.7 percent since 2004. 
 
The rich heritage of the industry has brought companies and talent to Southern California and San Diego to create a formidable ecosystem. But there are challenges. As we move forward, we must continue to support our aerospace manufacturers. We must also be proactive in identifying and supporting new sectors by aligning our universities to stay at the forefront of research and innovation, and working with the state to refute the claims that aerospace is a dying industry. Finally, we must stay at the forefront of the convergence between tech and aerospace, as it will continue to be where Southern California and San Diego can lead the industry. 
 
Even with new large contracts to develop platforms like the Long Range Strike Bomber, we must realize that as a percentage, those in the industry will be fewer on the factory floor, and more in labs and behind computers.
 
It is an exciting time for the aerospace industry in Southern California. The ecosystem is changing rapidly. It brings with it opportunity for seemingly endless growth and development of new technologies.
 
For more information, see the full study and fact sh eet.
March 1, 2016

The notion that the aerospace industry is in decline is dead wrong.  And now, thanks to a study conducted by Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) in partnership with San Diego Regional EDC, we have the numbers to prove it. Released today, The Changing Face of Aerospace in Southern California, provides an in-depth analysis that describes the highly developed industry cluster across eight Southern California counties. In total, the industry impacts nearly 250,000 jobs throughout Southern California. 

Across the Southern California region, aerospace directly accounted for 85,500 jobs – 14 percent of the US industry employment. Additionally, San Diego is home to 12,040 aerospace jobs – approximately 14 percent of Southern California’s aerospace industry. With industry wages averaging $105,715 a year, aerospace workers are among the highest-paid in the SoCal region- almost twice the average pay of other industries.

Thanks to Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Center of Excellence in Rancho Bernardo and SPAWAR – the Navy’s R&D arm in San Diego – San Diego excels in aerospace technologies.

The aerospace industry not only serves as a crucial pillar of our statewide defense strategy, but with the rise of UAVs and robotics, it also represents a new frontier of innovation – one that is dependent on strong statewide support and innovative policies.  The report was released as part of Southern California Aerospace Day in Sacramento

The report was made possible through the generous funding of Bank of America, California Manufacturing Technology Consulting, Northrop Grumman Corporation and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

For more information, see the fact sheet.

 

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February 23, 2016

By Mark Cafferty, President & CEO

Kia ora!

Just back from a long trip to Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. I wanted to share some updates and observations from my time representing EDC and marketing our region to our friends Down Under and in the City of Sails.

Unlike many of my recent international trips, I spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks engaging with our economic development peers at the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development agency (ATEED) and the leadership of the Committee for Sydney – two very different and interesting models in two very different and interesting cities. EDC’s relationships with these highly regarded organizations have been continually strengthened and enhanced through our work with JPMorgan Chase and Brookings Institute. Our colleague Greg Clark from Brookings was especially instrumental in setting up several of these meetings over the course of my trip.

Most exciting for me to see was the buzz EDC’s work has created over the past few years. Both the ATEED and the Committee for Sydney were familiar with our research and gave high praise to our work with the region’s traded clusters. Quite surprisingly, the organizations knew about our transition away from politics/policy over the last four years and praised EDC for being a leader in redefining regional economic development through a collaborative, employer-led approach – a strategy that has served us well.

In Auckland, they are building a "sports and active lifestyle" sector strategy based on the research EDC conducted a few years ago in partnership with San Diego Sports Innovators. They have also analyzed our export strategy and Go Global efforts, and are working to mirror several of our programs/initiatives – now spearheaded by the WTC San Diego housed within EDC.

In Sydney, the highly influential Committee for Sydney was excited about what they have seen/read regarding our collaboration with Mayor Faulconer's office. Specifically, they are hoping to set up a video conference in May with their business and political leadership in Sydney to hear about the "San Diego Story" from the Mayor and the EDC team. From there they are hoping to open the door to a large-scale trade/investment mission in 2017. Stay tuned...

Along the way I also had a fantastic meeting with Baseball New Zealand set up through the San Diego Padres, meetings with the airline industry set up by our colleagues at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and continued engagement with leadership from two of our greatest San Diego/Sydney business connections: Cubic and ResMed. Lastly, I met with an Auckland-based VC firm who will likely be visiting businesses in San Diego within the next few months.

As always, San Diego’s universities, world renowned research institutions, biotech industry, defense technology and proximity to Mexico dominated conversations throughout the course of my trip. And with international commerce opportunities increasing and expanding through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), everyone I spoke with saw San Diego's geography, entrepreneurship and economic diversity as key assets for expanded international trade and investment.

But what was incredible to see was how much better San Diego's economic story was understood and appreciated in comparison to my first visit to Auckland and Sydney just two years ago.

With and through our partners/investors, EDC is successfully placing San Diego on the radar of international businesses, investors and thought leaders across the world. The National Geographic Smart Cities documentary and our work with Brookings and JPMorgan Chase have a lot to do with this, but so does the hard work of our economic development team, the outstanding research we have been producing and the creative way in which our marketing team is framing our work and telling our story. For that, we have nobody to thank more than our board members and investors whose leadership, guidance, support, direction and vision are helping to change the way the world sees our region and our economy. And the best is yet to come.

A fascinating person I met with during this trip told me that an old Australian Aboriginal Proverb states:

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love...and then we return home."

Thank you for sharing this time and place with us, and thank you for continuing to support our efforts to observe, learn and grow.