Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Inclusive Growth

September 6, 2018

In an effort to build a more inclusive economy, San Diego Regional EDC and its Inclusive Growth Steering Committee of 40 employers officially endorsed a regional goal to double the number of skilled workers produced in San Diego County to 20,000 per year by 2030, as well as a set of recommendations, to develop a stronger local talent pipeline – the first of three main goals of EDC’s Inclusive Growth initiative.

“We have untapped talent all throughout San Diego County, especially in our Latino communities,” said Dr. Patricia Prado-Olmos, vice president of community engagement, California State University San Marcos, and Inclusive Growth Steering Committee member. “When higher education and companies come together to provide our traditionally underserved populations with the education, training, and development they need to qualify for highly-skilled and high-paying jobs, we are able to create a better San Diego where everyone can thrive.”

BUILDING THE TALENT PIPELINE
Amid a nationwide battle for skilled talent, San Diego must also look inward and focus on building a stronger talent pipeline locally to sustain its growth. Earlier this year, EDC released research that shows the region’s largest and fastest growing population (Hispanics) is statistically the least prepared for high-skilled high-wage jobs, with 85 percent without a bachelor’s degree.

In its latest study release, EDC found that there are more than 100 key occupations in the region with shortages in skilled labor, many of which fuel San Diego’s innovation economy. Projections show an estimated 20,000 job openings per year in these same occupations, which means that San Diego’s current talent supply falls short in meeting anticipated skilled labor demands of tomorrow’s economy. The study also found that San Diego’s current innovation economy does not reflect the region’s population, as the Hispanic population is glaringly underrepresented at only 17 percent. Guided by the findings of this study and input from expert advisors, EDC’s Inclusive Growth Steering Committee—comprised of 40 regional employers—has endorsed a regional goal to double the number of skilled workers produced in San Diego County to 20,000 per year by 2030.

Companies that have officially endorsed this regional target include Northrop Grumman, Qualcomm, Brown Law Group, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Cox Communications, ResMed, Cubic Transportation Systems, and more. For a complete list of employers committed to this effort, visit the interactive web study online.

To further support this goal, the Inclusive Growth Steering Committee has also developed the following recommendations for employers to adopt and implement at their organizations:

  1. Transparency – provide EDC with anonymized data on workforce demographics to benchmark and track over time. Understanding the composition of the region’s largest employers will provide insight into where the region stands at present and how much progress is being made over time.
  2. Engagement – participate in direct student-workplace exposure programs that directly engage the students aimed to prepare for high-skilled work in 2030. Providing K-12 students with opportunities to visualize themselves in the roles that the regional economy needs them to fill.
  3. Investment – invest in post-secondary educational programs resulting in qualified talent at respective workplace.

“Latinos are the most underrepresented group across innovation companies in San Diego,” said Cynthia Curiel, vice president of communications, Northrop Grumman, and Inclusive Growth Steering Committee member. “We are in a war for talent, and recruiting from outside the region isn’t enough. By investing in building our local workforce, we can fill jobs and lift communities that are currently underrepresented in San Diego’s innovation economy.“

EDC and the Inclusive Growth Steering Committee strongly encourage other regional employers to adopt these recommendations and actively promote inclusion at their respective workplaces.

BUILDING A STRONGER SAN DIEGO: EDC’S INCLUSIVE GROWTH INITIATIVE

Like many of its metro counterparts, San Diego has its fair share of economic challenges. While its innovation economy continues to grow and bring in much wealth and opportunity to the region, it also leaves many San Diegans unable to afford the rising cost of living.

To help sustain San Diego’s future growth, EDC launched a data-driven initiative focused on promoting inclusive growth as an economic imperative, emphasizing that San Diego employers must take active measures to promote inclusion, or the region will no longer be able to compete.

Together with its Inclusive Growth Steering Committee, EDC aims to set regional targets and release actionable recommendations for three main goals: build a strong local talent pool; equip small businesses to compete; and address the affordability crisis.

“The regional economy is changing rapidly, and we must be inclusive to succeed and compete,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “For EDC, this means changing the economic development discussion to be talent-centric and inclusive in nature. These recommendations represent the first step in our regional employers’ commitment to developing local talent and preparing a workforce that is diverse, ambitious, and capable of meeting the demands of our growing economy.”

Over the next several months, EDC will continue to establish regional targets and recommendations for its other two goals. EDC will also support employers by facilitating the collection of data for quick, consistent reporting and serving as a liaison between employers and various community partners to expand reach and increase exposure of scalable programs.

For more information about the Inclusive Growth initiative, visit inclusiveSD.org.

Follow along on social media with #inclusiveSD

View the full interactive web study release – “Building San Diego’s Talent Pipeline” – here.

August 6, 2018

Originally published on sdfoundation.org.

The second most populous county in California, San Diego County is a center of entrepreneurship and innovation with one of the most highly educated workforces in the world.
 
However, changing skill requirements, a nationwide battle for talent, and a soaring cost of living are threatening our regional competitiveness.
 
According to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), San Diego’s Hispanic population is our fastest growing group and will become our region’s largest by 2030. However, Hispanics and other underserved populations are dramatically underrepresented in our region’s innovation occupations and possess lower rates of educational attainment.
 
For the region to remain competitive, proactive measures to promote economic inclusion must be taken.
 
THE CASE FOR ECONOMIC INCLUSION
The San Diego Foundation Science & Technology Program nonprofit partners are working to close demographic gaps in educational attainment and strengthen our regional resilience by building an inclusive economy.
 
Since 1999, the Science & Technology Program has granted more than $8 million to support scientists and engineers in San Diego, and most recently granted $632,934 to 10 programs aiming to  increase opportunities for those who work and learn in our region.
 
Grantees such as California State University San Marcos and Access Inc. support San Diego’s innovation economy by creating and expanding a pipeline of young adults underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to college and career opportunities for inclusive growth.
 
Inclusive growth is crucial to sustain a successful, regional economy, especially for our innovation sector, which accounts for more than 25 percent of San Diego’s economic activity.
 
PREPARING OUR REGION’S WORKFORCE OF THE FUTURE
The San Diego Foundation Director of Community Impact Katie Rast recently discussed how we can grow an inclusive, regional economy with key stakeholders: President & CEO of San Diego Regional EDC Mark Cafferty, Vice President of Youth Programs at Access Inc. Roshawn Brady, and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Cal State San Marcos Dr. Julie Jameson.
 
Watch the recording below of the Facebook Live conversation to learn why preparing our region’s workforce of the future means ensuring our underserved communities are competitive and how visionary organizations are making an impact in the lives of young, underrepresented adults.

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

April 16, 2018

This op-ed was first published in the San Diego Business Journal, authored by EDC's Dr. Nikia Clarke, Brown Law Group's founder and owner and incoming EDC Board Chair Janice Brown, and Brookings Institution's Amy Liu. 

San Diego is poised to become an unstoppable force in the global economy. The region is home to 34 percent more STEM workers than the national average, ranks third in the U.S. for patent intensity and has the sixth highest rate of income mobility.
 
While the rise of the innovation economy has created wealth and opportunity, it has also left many residents behind. This is leading to wide economic inequalities that, if left unaddressed, will cause San Diego to lose employees and companies to other regions.
 
San Diego Regional EDC and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program have collaborated over several years to make San Diego a prosperous global city. Last year, San Diego joined Brookings in a learning lab focused on inclusive economic growth. Here is what we learned:
 
According to the Center on Policy Initiatives, more than one million residents cannot afford to live in San Diego. Driven by wage increases in the innovation economy and constraints on the supply of housing, the region now has the fourth highest cost of living in the country.
 
San Diegans are spending an increasingly greater proportion of incomes on housing. These pressures are already impacting some of San Diego’s largest employers, as prospective talent opts for competing regions with lower costs of living.
 
In San Diego, more than 98 percent of the region’s employers are small businesses (less than 100 employees), which have less capital available to pay competitive wages. Employees of small businesses typically earn up to 20 percent lower wages than their peers at larger corporations. Because of this dynamic, the region’s small businesses struggle to compete with larger companies for skilled talent.
 
And this all comes at a time when workforce demographics are rapidly changing. Brookings research has shown that 59 percent of millennials and 67 percent of post-millennials in San Diego are racial and ethnic minorities. By 2030, Hispanics will become San Diego’s largest demographic group, and yet 85 percent currently do not hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
 
Achievement Gap
 
Unless all San Diegans are willing to invest in closing this minority achievement gap, we will continue to constrain the region’s ability to compete in the global market. Employers cannot simply rely on the in-migration of workers. The real opportunity lies within our local talent pool. 
 
With the compounded impact of a high cost of living, low educational attainment in our fastest growing population and a small business-centric economy that struggles to pay competitive wages, San Diego has a problem that cannot be ignored. They point to an economic imperative for change. We must recognize that the roots of exclusion are economic, and must be systematically addressed by employers and policymakers, not left to philanthropy.
 
Calls to Action
 
Over the next year, a regional Steering Committee will be releasing research and recommendations to address these challenges that together create a platform for inclusive growth.
 
If leaders do not take measures to promote economic inclusion, San Diego will find itself unable to compete in a global economy that is increasingly unforgiving to businesses and regions that cannot adapt. If San Diego tackles these challenges head-on, it will position itself as a national leader among metro areas in building an innovative economy that works for all.
 
San Diego has evolved from border town, to military hub, to tech and innovation powerhouse. With the will, leadership and a healthy dose of experimentation and collaboration, San Diego can build an economy that reaches and includes all of its residents and employers.
 
Janice Brown is president of Brown Law Group. Nikia Clarke is executive director of World Trade Center San Diego. Amy Liu is director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

 

 

 

 

 

March 27, 2018

"Why Economic Inclusion is Crucial To San Diego," was originally published on GlobeSt.com. Reporter Carrie Rossenfeld interviewed Cynthia Curiel of Northrop Grumman.

It’s vital that San Diego employers act to close the minority-achievement gap, equip small businesses to compete and address the affordability crisis, Northrop Grumman’s Cynthia Curiel tells GlobeSt.com.
 
San Diego Regional EDC recently launched a data-driven initiative to drive economic growth and inclusion in the region. Catalyzed by San Diego’s participation in the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program learning lab in 2017, EDC released research that highlights the region’s economic pain points and necessity for an employer-led approach to tackling inclusivity issues. Simultaneously, the organization held a program called “Future of Growth: the economic case for inclusion,” with keynote remarks by Amy Liu, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
 
“Despite record-low unemployment and a renowned innovation ecosystem, San Diego has an inclusion problem that cannot be ignored,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC, in a prepared statement. “Small businesses cannot compete with larger corporations, while one million people cannot afford to live here. This initiative is a call to action for San Diego’s employers – we must come together to bridge the gaps in our economy.”
 
Convened by EDC, a steering committee of local employers will work to create an actionable platform to achieve three goals: close the minority achievement gap; equip small businesses to compete; and address the affordability crisis. The committee consists of nearly 40 local employers including Northrop Grumman, Solar Turbines, Sempra, Thermo Fisher Scientific, San Diego Padres and more.
 
We spoke with Curiel about why economic inclusion is so vital for our region, what some of the best practices for inclusion are and advice she would give to other companies about inclusivity.
 
GlobeSt.com: Why is economic inclusion imperative for growth internally and across the region?
 
Curiel: Our nation is facing record-low unemployment rates. At face value, this is good news—it means people are working and the economy is producing, but it also means that employers and regions are facing intense competition for skilled talent. While it is important to ramp up talent-attraction efforts, we also must look to incubate a local talent pool. However, when looking at our current economic realities, this is a difficult feat for San Diego to accomplish. For starters, San Diego is an expensive place to live, with the fourth-highest cost of living in the nation.
 
Secondly, small businesses are the backbone of San Diego’s economy. More than 98% of our businesses are small businesses (under 100 workers). On average, small businesses pay 20% lower wages than their peers, making it more difficult to compete for talent. Lastly, although there may be an abundance of jobs in the innovation economy, there is a shortage of skilled workers to occupy them. Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing demographic population in San Diego, yet are statistically the least prepared for high-skilled, high-wage careers, with only 15% holding at least a bachelor’s degree.
 
The compounded impact of a high cost of living, small businesses that cannot afford to pay competitive wages and low educational achievement in our fastest-growing population have created a problem that if ignored, will undermine San Diego’s regional competitiveness. While the answer is not easy or straightforward, it’s vital that San Diego employers act to close the minority achievement gap, equip small businesses to compete and address the affordability crisis.
 
GlobeSt.com: What are some best practices for inclusion in this sense?
 
Curiel: Simply put, the face of our workforce needs to reflect the face of our nation. At Northrop Grumman, we believe that fostering diversity and inclusion in our workforce and workplace is pivotal to promoting innovation and increasing productivity and profitability.
 
We offer a wide range of programs and activities turning our leadership focus on diversity and inclusion into tangible reality for our people from programs that cover education, employee-resource groups and work/life balance assistance, to name just a few.
 
We believe that a diverse workforce is a stronger and higher-performing workforce that results in more-engaged employees, which drives greater creativity and innovation into our business, resulting in more-impactful outcomes for our customers.
 
We want our employees to be comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work every day, which ultimately makes our company stronger, more resilient and more unified when faced with challenges in a rapidly changing and competitive world where we need everybody pulling together.
 
We also hire and mentor our nation’s wounded warriors through Operation Impact. By investing in underrepresented groups, we are not only enabling individuals to reach their full potential, we’re also leveraging untapped resources full of unique experiences, ideas, knowledge and skills to make our company, our culture and our products better.
 
We also know that in order to grow and diversify the talent pipeline, we need to inspire STEM- curious minds at an early age and that’s where our work starts. We partner with school districts and non-profit organizations in a deliberate effort to reach K-12 students from underrepresented communities throughout San Diego County. Some of our strategies include bringing kids on campus for hands-on STEM activities and high school internships, sending our engineers into the community to talk about their careers and providing direct financial support to public schools and non-profit organizations with engineering and technology-based programs.
 
Through the Northrop Grumman Foundation, we are able to expand our reach as we work to connect youth to STEM careers and provide professional development resources for their teachers. Each year we send students and educators from local school districts to Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. Through the Foundation’s Fab School Lab program, Harriet Tubman Charter and the Del Dios Academy of Arts & Science both received $100,000 grants to build state-of-the-art science labs at their schools. For the past few summers, we have hosted local middle-school teachers with a focus on science and technology at our sites in San Diego for a two-week externship where they develop lesson plans based on “real world” applications of STEM principles. In addition, to extend our pipeline of talent through college, graduation and into the workforce, we have robust programs in place where we build direct relationships with some of the most talented engineering students in the country. We are focused on a number of target colleges, including those right here in San Diego, such as San Diego State University and University of California San Diego. This ensures that we are harnessing the strength of our local talent; we are hopeful that by engaging with students at a younger age, they will be inspired and excited by the broad range of opportunities that Northrop Grumman and other local companies offer once they enter the workforce.
 
GlobeSt.com: What advice would you give to other companies that are looking to be more inclusive?
 
Curiel: An investment in your community is an investment in your company. It’s no secret that San Diego is home to some of the brightest minds in the world, especially given the life-changing technology and life-sciences developments taking place. But just think of how many more brilliant minds there would be in our local talent pool if employers embraced diversity and provided the same resources and opportunities to San Diegans in disadvantaged parts of our region. Creating training programs and educational opportunities in these communities is just one way to promote inclusion, develop local talent and create lifetime advocates for your company. So, take a look around. Your next top engineer or scientist could be waiting for you to give them the tools to help them get there.
 
GlobeSt.com: What else should our readers know about the EDC’s recent inclusive- growth event?
 
Curiel: We must recognize that the issue of inclusion is, in fact, an economic imperative and must be systematically addressed by employers and policy makers—not simply left to philanthropy. As San Diego employers, it is our job to embrace the different pathways and experiences of this diverse workforce and use it to our advantage. The Inclusive Growth event included a keynote from the Brookings Institute’s Amy Liu, San Diego Regional EDC’s Nikia Clarke and various members of this initiative’s steering Committee, of which I am very proud to be a part. Over the next year, we will be releasing research and recommendations that together create a platform for inclusive economic growth.
 
It’s not just about creating more jobs; it’s about creating a trajectory of higher growth that comes from increasing the productivity of our local workforce. This won’t happen overnight, but I believe that together we will overcome these challenges head-on and create a better San Diego in which all can thrive. And we will be a better San Diego because of it. Follow along at #inclusiveSD and sandiegobusiness.org/inclusivegrowth.
February 15, 2018

Today, EDC launched a data-driven initiative to drive economic growth and inclusion in the region. Catalyzed by San Diego’s participation in the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program learning lab in 2017, EDC released research that highlights the region’s economic pain points and necessity for an employer-led approach to tackling inclusivity issues.

Despite record-low unemployment and a renowned innovation ecosystem, San Diego has an inclusion problem that cannot be ignored,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “Small businesses cannot compete with larger corporations, while one million people cannot afford to live here. This initiative is a call to action for San Diego’s employers – we must come together to bridge the gaps in our economy.”

While the rise of the innovation economy has created wealth and opportunity across the region, it has also widened economic inequalities. If San Diego does not change its status quo, the region will lose employees and companies to other regions. 

Key facts:

With the combination of a high cost of living, low educational attainment in our fastest growing population and a small business-centric economy that struggles to pay competitive wages, it is imperative that San Diego employers take action to promote economic inclusion.

Convened by EDC, a Steering Committee of local employers will work to create an actionable platform to achieve three goals: close the minority achievement gap; equip small businesses to compete; and address the affordability crisis. The committee consists of nearly 40 local employers including Northrop Grumman, Solar Turbines, Sempra, Thermo Fisher Scientific, San Diego Padres and more.

Inclusion is not a philanthropy issue. This is about economic competitiveness, and San Diego’s employers must lead the charge in addressing inequity in our local workforce, said Janice Brown, founder and owner, Brown Law Group, and incoming board chair, San Diego Regional EDC. “But if any region can change and reinvent itself, it’s this one.” 

If the region intends to compete in the global market, employers and economic development leaders must work to ensure all workers have equal opportunity to thrive. While talent attraction efforts are necessary in an increasingly global economy, San Diego must ensure its future workforce is prepared for jobs in the innovation economy and recognize opportunity within its local talent pool.

To view the research summary, click here.

Over the next year, EDC and the Steering Committee will produce ongoing research and develop actionable recommendations to inclusive economic development in San Diego that will be updated on sandiegobusiness.org/inclusivegrowth.

The initiative launched at an event hosted by EDC at the Jackie Robinson YMCA, with special guest Amy Liu, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, at the Brookings Institution.

Other partners and organizations are making progress as well. On February 27, National University and the San Diego Workforce Partnership are hosting Dr. Raj Chetty, leading impact economist from Stanford University, and the author of research that inspired much of the focus on inclusion, nationally.  He will discuss social mobility markers and the link between mobility and economic growth. To RSVP for the event, click here.

 

December 18, 2017


Ensuring Everyone has a seat at the table

A prosperous San Diego means an economy that works for all residents. Despite record low unemployment rates and a flourishing innovation economy, San Diego, and many other regions, have seen a rise in economic inequities. And if not addressed, this rise will have dire economic consequences. 
 
It started with taking an uncomfortable - yet honest - look at how San Diego can better address strategies for inclusive economic growth and how economic development professionals in San Diego can better address these strategies that impact both businesses and workers.

EDC's still has a long way to go in its mission to help make the competitiveness case for inclusion, but we've come a long way. See more in our timeline below:

 
  • APRIL 2016 - THE RISING TIDE
    A rising tide hasn’t lifted all boats, and sometimes it take a former Navy  Admiral to make that observation At EDC’s Annual Dinner, Jim Zortman takes over as EDC chair, and challenges uss to re-think economic development and engage communities that have been historically left out of the conversation.  
  • DECEMBER 2016 - A BROOKINGS INSTITUTION INCLUSIVE LEARNING LAB
    San Diego wasn’t the only place having these conversations. DC, on behalf of San Diego, was selected as one of three regions from around the country to participate in a learning lab, spearheaded by the Brookings Institution, focused on inclusive economic development and how organizations engage in this complex topic. EDC convened partners in the community who were embedded in these issues to come around the table.
  • JULY 2017 - DEFINING THE PROBLEM
    With the help of the Brookings Institution, EDC completed a narrative to make the competitiveness case for inclusive growth. Economic inclusion is more than just ‘corporate social responsibility’; it’s an economic development imperative.
    In the narrative, EDC highlights key stats about this challenge that frames inclusion as a competitiveness issue: that our demographics are shifting and our ‘innovation economy’ workforce is not reflective of our population; that the educational attainment gap in minority populations will exacerbate company workforce shortages in STEM fields; and that small businesses are not able to compete to grow. All of this is happening at a time when housing prices are at an all-time high and our population’s ability to afford to live here is shrinking.
  • SEPTEMBER 2017 - A LEADERSHIP TRIP TO LOUISVILLE
    EDC took a group of business leaders to Louisville, KY to understand how their region addresses challenges related to inclusion. In Louisville, where socioeconomic and demographic challenges have come into everyday conversation, our group learns to be bold and be direct when addressing these issues. It’s only when everyone can talk about the challenges that they can be addressed, in full. 
  • 2018 - WHAT'S NEXT
    As the region's innovation economy continues to grow, EDC is incorporating lessons learned into its own strategic plan. The plan is three-fold: 1) Developing San Diego's population to meet the region's talent needs 2) Helping SMEs better compete and 3) Highlighting issues of affordability that prevent talent from staying in, or coming to the region. 

We're just getting started. Stay tuned for more in 2018.

September 29, 2017

Last week, members of the EDC team joined 20 board members, investors and partners on a trip to Louisville, Kentucky. The purpose was to learn about that city’s emphasis on inclusion and compassion as focal points for their branding and economic development efforts. We met passionate people—both in the private and public sectors—who are working hard to create a community that is uniquely Louisville.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer set the tone when he welcomed our group Wednesday evening and stayed to talk with us about Louisville’s past, its present challenges and the city’s goals around lifelong learning, health and compassion. Louisville’s challenges are significant, but they do not shy away from talking about them openly. And there is a genuine continuity to how people raise, speak about and confront these issues.

Research and workforce representatives presented hard-hitting data on the region’s existing economic disparities, as well as ambitions to add 55,000 degrees over a ten year span. The city’s economic development team and business leaders explained how the region has to work harder than most to attract and retain talent, and showcase their region as a place that is ripe for investment and growth—despite having 30,000 current job openings and being among the most affordable of large metros.

Many of the challenges that they face today stem from events that happened generations ago. But they embrace their past with the belief that they can’t chart where they are going if they ignore where they have been. Addressing a history of racial segregation, poverty and stagnant population growth are as much a part of their economic development discussion and focus as attraction, retention and expansion. The authenticity that was threaded throughout our visit culminated in an honest dialogue among our delegation.

San Diego’s Story

Back home, San Diego has experienced solid economic growth, led by its innovation industries, which have added jobs three times faster the overall economy1. However, this prosperity has not been shared by all San Diegans. A recent study found that there are more than one million people in our region with incomes too low to afford basic costs of living—the numbers are even more appalling for our black and Latino populations.

In San Diego Latinos represent one-third of the population, and are projected to be the majority by 20302. Yet only 17 percent have completed a bachelor’s degree program or higher3. Meanwhile our region has a deficit of 4,500 STEM graduates4. But talent shortages exist in every metro area—our population is our talent pool.

And while we have large employers in our region that are the vanguard of innovation, 59 percent of our workforce is employed by smaller firms that often pay below average wages5. Layer on the fact that San Diego has the second highest median home price and is the fourth most expensive metro to live in6, and you quickly see the risks to our competitiveness as a region.

We spent the past six months working with key partners to develop our story and better understand our own regional challenges. And in the coming weeks we will reassemble our delegation, as well as business and community leaders, to build an economic development agenda that benefits more people, companies and communities: an agenda that grows our own talent, bolsters small- and medium-sized firm growth, and addresses the cost of living pressures on talent attraction and retention.

There is a lot of work to be done, and it will require great collaboration and coordination. Our mission at EDC is to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. To live up to that mission our economic development strategies must promote and account for growth and inclusion.

Click here for an EDC-produced research profile on the Louisville and San Diego economies.

Footnotes

1.      U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006-2015.

2.      American Community Survey, 2016; SANDAG population projections.

3.      American Community Survey, 2016.

4.      EMSI, 2017.2.

5.      Firms with fewer than 100 people; CA EDD Business Statistics, 2015.

6.      Among 50 most populous metros; National Association of Realtors, 2017; C2ER, 2017; EMSI, 2017.3.