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Mega-Region

June 30, 2016
San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, World Trade Center San Diego, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and business and civic leaders unveiled the 15 companies selected to participate in the MetroConnect Program, a comprehensive support program to help local companies accelerate their global growth.
 
“The MetroConnect Program helps us to foster our startup community to provide phenomenal opportunities for San Diego entrepreneurs abroad,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, who announced the program participants. “I am proud of the 15 companies selected by MetroConnect, which represent virtually every sector of our region’s innovation economy, from life sciences to maritime tech and wireless analytics. It is my hope that they will use our MetroConnect Program to write new chapters in San Diego’s success story.”

 
From Deering Banjo, the largest banjo manufacturing company in the U.S., to Ocean Aero, an autonomous underwater unmanned systems company, the 2016 MetroConnect companies represent a diverse cross section of San Diego’s innovation economy.
 
Each MetroConnect participant will be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts.
 
Building on the success of the pilot round, the MetroConnect Program is creating additional support services in 2016 to directly help San Diego companies. These services include:
 
  • A dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period
  • Access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing
  • Reduced airfare on the Japan Airlines direct flight from San Diego to Tokyo
  • Free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs
  • Consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016

The expanded MetroConnect Program is made possible by JPMorgan Chase, a company committed to helping San Diego reach its full economic potential.

MetroConnect funds can be used for a variety for global services including travel (to and from target markets), participation in trade shows, establishment of a foreign subsidiary, foreign language translation of marketing materials and more. In 2015, MetroConnect Grand Prize Winner Cypher Genomics was acquired by San Diego-based Human Longevity Inc. after using the money to fund a partnership with Genomics England. Pharmaceutical company IriSys – another 2015 participant – opened a business development office in Shanghai.
 
“Global connectivity is crucial to San Diego’s economic future, and SMEs are increasingly its driver,“ said Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego. “Thanks to JPMorgan Chase, we are continuing to build out a comprehensive export support program to ensure that San Diego’s goods, services and technologies are competing overseas.”

 
According to the Brookings Institution, companies that are global pay their employees higher wages, are less likely to go out of business and spur more efficient development of technology and R&D.
 
In total, 73 San Diego companies applied to the MetroConnect Program. Companies were selected based on criteria including potential for export growth, development of an international strategy and potential benefit the company would receive from international expansion. Judges included representatives from Applied Membranes, Biocom, Qualcomm Ventures, U.S. Department of Commerce, San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego State University’s CIBER, Tech San Diego, Taylor Guitars and UC San Diego.
 
The MetroConnect Program is administered by WTC San Diego, an affiliate of San Diego Regional EDC. The program is made possible through JPMorgan Chase, with additional support from Japan Airlines, Qualcomm Ventures, SYSTRAN and Taylor Guitars.
 
For more information about MetroConnect, please go to MetroConnectsd.org
 
The 15 program participants:
  1. Aurora Spine
  2. AVACEN Medical
  3. Calbiotech
  4. Deering Banjo Company
  5. ElliptiGO, Inc.
  6. GroundMetrics
  7. Hyperikon
  8. INOVA Drone
  9. MANTA Instruments Inc.
  10. Ocean Aero
  11. Ocean Reef
  12. Rough Draft Brewing Company
  13. Solatube Worldwide Sales
  14. VaultRMS
  15. Whova
June 28, 2016

In an effort to attract talent from outside of the region to North County San Diego, Innovate78 led an ad campaign targeting the L.A. area and focusing on the region’s diverse career and lifestyle opportunities. Utilizing various social media channels, as well as university communications at UCLA and UCI, the ad campaign garnered more than 740,000 impressions and drove more than 3,500 clicks to the Innovate78 website, where recent graduates can find jobs, housing and additional resources available in North County.

This is a new effort focused on exposing talent from outside of San Diego to the unique opportunities in North County – which includes more than surfing and craft beer (although we love those, too). 

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 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.”


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