Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Mega-Region

May 17, 2016

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, San Diego universities conferred more than 40,000 bachelor’s degrees in 2014. While recent data suggests there has been an increase in young graduates staying in San Diego, there is still a perception that entry-level job opportunities and startup culture are less common here than in other tech hubs, despite predictions of software and related tech jobs growing by more than 18 percent in the coming year – with many companies looking to hire recent grads.

Working to develop and retain talent in San Diego, EDC partnered with community organizations including Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP) and Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE), as well as local universities including UC San Diego, San Diego State University and CSU San Marcos to host four Link2 events this quarter – connecting hundreds of students and veterans to industries and businesses growing in the region.

Kicking things off in Q2 with Link2Cyber, EDC introduced nearly 100 students to the region's growing cybersecurity sector. Hosted at CSU San Marcos, students from across the 78 Corridor heard from a panel of industry leaders, including ViaSat, CCOE, San Diego Airport Authority and others to learn about career opportunities in San Diego’s growing cybersecurity industry.

In addition to bringing industry onto campus, EDC and DSDP hosted Link2Downtown which brought more than 100 university students to tour downtown startups and incubators, showcasing the robust tech and startup scene in San Diego’s core. Computer Science students from San Diego State University and UC San Diego toured EvoNexus, The Control Group, Mindtouch and Red Door Interactive.

With emphasis on transitioning service members and veterans, EDC and CCOE hosted Link2Cyber at Navy Region Southwest during Hiring Our Heroes on April 20. The event featured two panel discussions, each with emphasis on technology innovation and integration, entrepreneurship and employment needs, to help acclimate transitioning services members into private sector employment – utilizing their unique skillsets in cybersecurity and more.

Taking it back to campus in May, Link2Design introduced students to design thinking in San Diego – demonstrating the power and value of design as a driver for San Diego’s innovation economy, civic infrastructure and quality of life. Hosted at The Basement on campus at UC San Diego, the event gave more than 35 students access to industry leaders – from ThermoFisher Scientific, Makers Quarter, Grizzly and Feetz – who discussed career opportunities, market trends and more about design in San Diego.

Launched in 2014, the Link2 series is part of EDC’s efforts to retain and grow our region’s talent. By exposing students and veterans to opportunities that exist in growing industries across the region, we are ensuring the growth of San Diego’s diverse talent pool.

April 22, 2016
Once again 800 of the region’s executives, elected officials and community leaders joined EDC at SeaWorld San Diego for our Annual Dinner.
 
EDC’s new Chairman Jim Zortman of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems shared his vision for the organization; Conrad Prebys was recognized as the Herb Klein Civic Leadership honoree for his many contributions to the region and Illumina’s former CEO Jay Flatley accepted the Duane Roth Renaissance Award on behalf of the company for its life changing genomics technology. 
 
Throughout the evening, guests had the opportunity to interact with SeaWorld animals and enjoy a unique array tastes and treats spread over a large section of the park. 
 
EDC’s Annual Dinner is underwritten by Point Loma Nazarene University, with additional support from sponsors.
 
April 15, 2016

The California Competes Tax Credit is an income tax credit available to businesses that want to locate in or expand in California. Since its launch in 2014 as part of Governor Jerry Brown’s economic development initiative, the California Competes Tax Credit will award close to $380 million in credits to California companies.

On April 14, 103 companies were awarded more than $68 million in tax credits, creating close to 9,370 jobs over the next five years. In total, these companies will invest more than $1.3 billion over the next five years, aiding the state’s long term growth.  

San Diego boded especially well in this round. Eighteen San Diego companies are receiving more than $11.2 million in tax credits, ranking second among all metropolitan regions in the state. San Diego also ranked second in the amount of jobs created among all metros, with more than 1,330 jobs. Some of the companies that will be will awarded the credits include: Hunter Industries and Sentek Global, and many more. These funds will help the 18 San Diego companies invest more than $139.7 million into the community and pay more than $252.8 million in wages over the next five years.

 

April 15, 2016

Over the past year, EDC has partnered with the Brookings Institute’s Bilateral Cities Exchange to refine the economic development approach between Tijuana and San Diego. In parallel, EDC’s recent engagement with the site selection industry through Explore San Diego – a tour hosted for 12 site selector consultants earlier this year – enabled our facilitation of a cross-border business attraction project that will provide jobs and investment on both sides of the border. Per terms of confidentiality, this project is being referred to as Project Scout.

During EDC’s inaugural Explore San Diego tour, we focused not only on success stories in San Diego, but highlighted companies who had set up operations on both sides of the border, including Thermo Fisher and BD. Although we frequently hear about cross-border collaboration in San Diego, we soon realized that it was a story that many outside the region – including these site selectors – hadn’t thought about; companies can easily do business on both sides of the border.

In early March, EDC received a request from an Explore San Diego attendee whose client was looking to scale manufacturing operations outside of its current high-cost pilot facility. Given the consultants’ recent exposure to the bi-national mega region, San Diego-Tijuana made the long list of 20 potential sites. In response, EDC provided data, real estate market figures and other strengths regarding our cross-border economy. Just two weeks later, a call came in that San Diego-Tijuana had made the top three, alongside North Carolina and Texas.

In a tour on behalf of Project Scout, EDC rallied the necessary business and political partners in order to put the region’s best foot forward – making the case for a cross-border operation. With partners including CaliBaja, city of San Diego, city of Tijuana, San Diego Mayor Faulconer, Tijuana EDC and UC San Diego, EDC showcased Tijuana’s dynamic manufacturing facilities. Here, the group shattered stereotypes by exposing not only the quality and efficiency of Tijuana manufacturing, but also the cross-border collaboration that makes our region so unique.

Project Scout ultimately chose to scale 80,000 square feet of manufacturing operations in San Diego-Tijuana – beating out North Carolina, Texas and other competitors. The local operation will provide jobs on both sides of the border beginning in August.

Stay tuned for more as Project Scout develops. 

February 18, 2016
By Matt Sanford, director of economic development
 

Could the 78 Corridor be the next hub for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies? At a roundtable discussion with industry companies, academic institutions and city economic developers this week, EDC posed this question.

With a concentration of more than 650 ICT employers in the five cities along the 78 Corridor - Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, Oceanside, Vista - there is a reason companies are choosing to locate here. Some of those reasons are the quality of talent and engineers, quality of life, and strategic positioning between San Diego and Orange County. If we are able to better capitalize on those reasons and understand the issues and opportunities of doing business along the Corridor (and the broader San Diego region), we can proactively set the framework to accelerate industry growth and clear hurdles.

The discussion identified several key challenges to overcome as well. Key among them: talent accessibility, infrastructure improvements, university/academic relationships and the ability to work together to make the region more attractive for those who might consider working here. 

EDC plans to dive deeper into these challenges with our partners, cities and institutions to find creative solutions to turn those challenges into opportunities. 

Learn more about San Diego's Upside at Innovate78.com
February 8, 2016

By Shea Benton, economic development manager 

Late January, EDC ventured into new territory by hosting ExploreSD, a three-day showcase of San Diego’s economy and talented workforce for site selection consultants from all over the country. Our goals were twofold: 1) pilot a replicable multi-day tour of the best companies our region has to offer to tell the San Diego story; and 2) proactively promote our region’s unique economy in an effort to generate new business attraction opportunities.

Over the past year, our team has engaged with a select group of consultants whose business is to compare and contrast regions for their clients, based on a gamut of criteria from real estate and utility costs to talent and quality of life, in order to help companies decide where to expand or relocate. As you can imagine, many in this industry have an aversion to California due to perceived and real barriers to doing business in the state. EDC’s strategy was to sell the San Diego region based on our thriving innovation economy, talented workforce, collaborative relationship with local and state government and unmatched quality of life.

Day 1: Joined by Mark Field, CTO of Thermo Fisher Scientific, Melissa Floca, director of the Center for US-Mexican Studies at UCSD, and Erik Caldwell, director of economic development for the City of San Diego, we kicked off day 1 with an overview of our mega-region. The conversation turned quickly to cross-border manufacturing and our proximity to Mexico, an asset previously overlooked by this group. After a multi-hour discussion, the stage was set for the next two days of company tours.

Day 2: Starting with a visual overview of downtown from the top of Diamondview Tower, our morning featured tours of Red Door Interactive, ESET and EvoNexus incubator. This portion of the event showcased San Diego’s downtown, with visit to both tech startups and established companies. The afternoon included trips to three companies with some of the most unique stories in San Diego: Illumina, iBoss Cybersecurity and BD/Carefusion. Not only are these three of the most recognizable names in the region, but they also have something else in common: they all explored expanding or relocating to other regions, only to increase their presence in San Diego.

Day 3: We began our final day in North County with tours of General Atomics and D&K Engineering to help these individuals better asses our advanced manufacturing industry. After a quick lunch at Stone Brewing Bistro & Gardens - a necessary stop for anyone visiting the region that doubled as a highlight of our craft beer industry - we explored all 5 cities along the 78 corridor. With stops at CSU San Marcos, a drive through Ocean Ranch Business Park and Carlsbad giants ViaSat and Thermo Fisher Scientific, we finished out our tour strong.

One thing was clear throughout the tour – our region’s innovation economy, talented workforce, and quality of life permeated every discussion in an organic way. With the help of an articulate group of business leaders and San Diego’s leading industry and real estate experts, we effectively articulated the benefits of business location in our region over peer metros including Austin, Denver and San Francisco. Moving forward, we intend to replicate and use this style of tour as an effective method to tell the San Diego story. 

September 11, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets. Subscribe here to receive new posts every Wednesday on this topic.


“San Diego is every sports and active lifestyle company’s ideal location,” said Lisa Freedman, former executive director of SD Sport Innovators. “While there are other important and larger verticals in San Diego, the sports and active lifestyle cluster is a very strong community where authenticity goes hand in hand with innovation. As a result, people around the globe not only purchase and use, but they also rely on products developed and manufactured right here in Southern California.”

San Diego’s sports and active lifestyle (SAL) manufacturing is the most concentrated industry among major metropolitan regions in the U.S. In an economic impact study released by EDC in 2013, the sports and active lifestyle industry in San Diego represented more than 1,200 business and approximately 23,000 employees. These companies had a direct economic impact of $1.35 billion and accounted for 1.3 percent of San Diego’s 2011 economyequivalent to hosting four Super Bowls every year.

Bounce Composites, an Oceanside-based company, is one of these 1,200 businesses that capitalize on San Diego’s strong SAL industry.

“First of all, we really like living here. It's pretty hard to beat it,” said James Hedgecock, founder & general manager at Bounce Composites. “On a more business-oriented note, San Diego is an amazing area for composites manufacturing as well as the sporting goods market, two industries in which Bounce is deeply invested. In addition, the proximity of Baja California's manufacturing community for the production of some products and applications cannot be ignored.”

Bounce Composites designs, engineers, and manufactures high-quality and durable composite goods for multiple industries including wind energy, automotive, aerospace, and sporting goods. Its stand up paddleboards (SUPs), produced under the brand Bounce SUP, is its largest revenue generator. Bounce SUP’s patented design allows for serious performance and usage while maintaining a minimal environmental footprint. 

Driven by startup activity, the success of San Diego’s small- and medium-sized SAL companies is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, made possible by JPMorgan Chase, companies such as Bounce Composites received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

“The recent grant money we were awarded assisted in the implementation of outreach programs within social media websites for domestic and foreign export growth,” said Hedgecock. "Encouragingly, we are experiencing a high return on the international targets within our current marketing plan.”


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

June 23, 2015

When Mark Cafferty was recruited to take the reins at EDC in 2011, his first assignment was simple. Then executive committee member Vincent Mudd asked him to “tell us what the cover of Fortune Magazine will look like in five years.” A few days later, Mark came back with a well-crafted cover displayed in English, Spanish and Japanese. It is anecdotes like this that have defined EDC over the past 50 years.

Almost five years later, Vincent Mudd, now serving as chairman of EDC, delivered his annual talk at EDC’s 50th Annual Dinner.  Combing through the archives, he pays homage to EDC’s past – recounting the transformative leadership that has shaped the region  – and gives us a glimpse into what the future might look like.

Watch below: 

May 29, 2015

Earlier this week, the Brookings Institution published The 10 Lessons from Global Trade and Investment Planning in U.S. Metro Areas.

As one of the pilot cities in the development of a trade and investment plan, San Diego has learned a lot about itself in its ability to better compete globally. Below are the lessons learned:

 

(1) The primary benefit of global trade and investment is increased competitiveness, not quick jobs.

There is a reason the goal of the Go Global initiative is to maximize San Diego’s global competitiveness and prosperity through increased global engagement: increasing exports and attracting foreign investment (FDI) take time. Once a company decides to go global and export, it takes the firm 18 months on average to finally get its product abroad. 

 

(2) The most important firms are the ones you already have.

When more than 98 percent of the national job growth comes from startups and business expansions, it’s hard to ignore San Diego’s most important assets – its own companies.  When Takeda Pharmaceuticals, one of the oldest and largest companies in Japan, decided to condense its West Coast operations, it chose San Diego – closing the San Francisco office and moving those jobs into the region. 

       

 

(3) FDI and exports are closely linked.

Innovation-based industries that export San Diego’s leading products and services are also the drivers of FDI into the region. Reinforcing this relationship, FDI in these industries has catalyzed international exports as parent companies open new markets for San Diego establishments.  Aerospace products, pharmaceuticals, communications equipment, and semiconductors – all of which are strong exporting industries and large sources of FDI. 

 

(4) Leading with real specializations opens doors for firms.

Case in point: Go Global San Diego Strategy 4, Tactic 5: Reinforce research institutions leading innovation. Leading with San Diego’s premier research institutions will enable the spillover effects these institutions create – starting new companies and growing jobs. Hybritech, San Diego’s first biotech company, was co-founded by two professors from UC San Diego. Since then, UC San Diego’s faculty, staff, and students have founded more than 640 companies. 

“Our location is key for collaboration and talent recruitment with institutions like UCSD and Scripps. These assets make San Diego an attractive place for foreign firms to establish U.S. beachheads.” – San Diego pharmaceutical company                                                

 

(5) The middle market offers outsized opportunities.

EDC’s MetroConnect prize, funded by JPMorgan Chase, will assist small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in their ability to go global. SMEs represent more than 99 percent of businesses in the region and are responsible for much of the innovation and job creation activity that propels our economy. The success of these firms is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success.

 

(6) Mergers and acquisitions are the dominant form of FDI.

Of the FDI that came to San Diego between 1991 and 2011, 60 percent did so through M&A activity. This represents more than 72,600 jobs that transferred from domestic to foreign ownership. Post-acquisition, some of these companies continue to grow. Althea Technologies, acquired by Japanese food and chemical company Ajinomoto, has had access to new markets and new capital previously unseen by the company, growing by more than 20 percent since its acquisition.

 

(7) Global engagement must be a demonstrated priority.

Focus on high impact trade missions. Implement a global identity campaign. Build a proactive protocol network of civic and business organizations. Retain and attract international flight routes to key markets.

One thing these tactics have in common is that organizations throughout San Diego must have a mindset and culture that is global in nature. Having one organization carry the weight of interacting with global players is a lot of work. Having a network of organizations that work together in attracting new flights, execute trade missions, and implement a global identity ensures San Diego can reap the benefits of global connectivity. 

 

(8) Global commerce is driven by relationships and networks.

San Diego is one of the most active binational cross-border regions in the world. Global trends are making Mexico, and Baja California in particular, an increasingly favorable location for manufacturing. Their proximity to San Diego gives our region a clear competitive advantage.

 

(9) Metro areas are unsure of how to harness emerging forms of global capital.

When it comes to global patent intensity, San Diego ranks third, yet when compared to U.S. cities, it ranks a distant eighth in terms of the amount of venture capital activity in the region. Because of this, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, research institutions, and a whole host of other entities are increasingly looking to alternative sources of capital – EB-5, limited partners, sovereign wealth funds, corporate partnerships. Finding ways to leverage these resources can help bridge these capital gaps. 

 

(10) Competing on a global scale requires that metros intensify efforts on other critical economic issues.

“Workforce and infrastructure have consistently surfaced as the two issues that are increasingly threatening the competitiveness of companies and regions.” Feeding talent to companies and releasing the bottleneck from inefficient infrastructure can improve economic competitiveness and help grow the economy. Hence why the Link2 series, activating alumni networks, and modernizing key infrastructure assets are all key tactics of the Go Global San Diego initiative.

 

May 22, 2015

This past week, EDC traveled across the Pacific - by way of our direct JAL flight -  to release the National Geographic documentary in one of San Diego’s largest international trade and investment cities: Tokyo.

Tokyo based companies employ more than 6,300 people in San Diego, ranking as the largest source of foreign employment. When looking at advanced industries, these companies primarily invest in audio and video equipment manufacturing, semiconductor manufacturing, and medical equipment and supplies manufacturing. According to the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), companies that fall into these industries reported they will record a surplus in business profit in 2014 – a positive sign for San Diegans employed by these very same companies and our economy.

As part of the trade missions, EDC met with Japanese companies and organizations which have San Diego ties in order to strengthen relationships and learn more about specific challenges they face.

Day 1

EDC, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, San Diego Tourism Authority, and Supervisor Ron Roberts met with Japan Airlines. The Airport gave an impressive update to JAL, stating that the flight has been very successful since the launch. The Airport, along with the other delegates, impressed upon JAL that the direct flight between San Diego – Tokyo is among the most important for the region, continuing to strengthen the business ties and drive investment into the respective regions.

JAL team along with the Airport, Supervisor Ron Roberts, EDC, and SDTA

EDC met with the U.S.-Japan Embassy following the JAL meeting. This meeting served as an important connection for San Diego, as many of the Embassy staff in Japan focus on industries important to the region – aerospace, life sciences, cybersecurity and defense. Having Embassy staff understand the strengths and assets of San Diego help to build a bigger and better portfolio for staff, especially when they are meeting with companies important to the region.

Day 1 concluded with a dinner at the American Club in Tokyo. JPMorgan Chase sent their commercial industry representative, Mr. Satoshi Yamamoto, who gave an overview of the Tokyo economy and companies that are and will be important to San Diego.

Day 2
Day 2 began with a 2 hour ride to Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Kanagawa. As one of the largest pharmaceuticals companies in the world, and the largest in Japan with more than 3 million employees worldwide, Takeda is one of San Diego’s most important companies. After consolidating the San Francisco office into San Diego, more than half of all research and development now occurs in San Diego.

Following the morning’s meeting with Takeda, EDC participated in a lunch with Al Pisano, Dean of UC San Diego’s Jacobs Schools of Engineering, and UC San Diego alumni located in Tokyo. The lunch proved to showcase the many interesting and important people UC San Diego brings through its campus – with alumni working on robotics to running their own business in Tokyo.

After lunch it was off to San Diego’s iconic example of how an acquisition can be extremely beneficial to the success and profitability of a company; Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto acquired Althea Technologies in 2013. Since then, Althea has proved a successful venture for Ajinomoto – forging a strong pathway for the company’s expansion into the healthcare sector.


Ajinomoto’s Dr. Osamu Kurahashi and Masahiko Oshimura with EDC’s Mark Cafferty and Lauree Sahba

Good thing regenerative medicine is becoming a focus in Japan, because San Diego has plenty of resources to go around. Whiz Partners, a private equity firm located in Tokyo, helped bring insight into what funds in Japan are focusing on and what companies in the near future will look for.

Mark Cafferty presenting on San Diego’s economy to Tokyo business leaders
Mark Cafferty presenting on San Diego’s economy to Tokyo business leaders

The evening’s activities began with the Jacobs School of Engineering seminar. Dean Pisano gave a presentation about some of the incredible research being undertaken at the university – from microchip processors that are small enough to be a patch to monitor a premature baby’s vitals to technology around a smart grid, analyzing data to improve and streamline energy use on campus.

The premiere hosted more than 140 Japanese business leaders – including executives from Toray to Toshiba to JAL to Panasonic.

UCSD alumni attending the premiere


Overflow room for Nat Geo Premiere

Day 3
The final day of the trip EDC met with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). JETRO acts as the commercial service office for the country of Japan. They annually dispatch companies to the west coast from the gaming, tech, and life science industry. JETRO has an amazing incubator for foreign businesses. Any foreign business who wishes to do business in Japan, JETRO has a one-stop shop where business can lease space in an office which houses a representative from every branch of government in order to expedite the formation of their business.

Special thanks to all of the support from the delegates who traveled to Japan to strengthen San Diego’s connections to Tokyo and Japan – SeaWorld, Qualcomm, San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Port of San Diego, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, and UC San Diego. We look forward to hosting more missions to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Lastly, what would a trade mission to Japan be without a trip to a ballgame?