Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog

September 2014

September 30, 2014

Ask any company why they chose San Diego, and chances are, they will mention these two things: the strong talent pool and the community collaboration. Whereas many innovative technology companies take care of the first item, it's places like the YMCA of San Diego County that help foster a collaborative community. By incubating strong communities, they help ensure that San Diego is a place where people - and companies - thrive.

We sat down with the Y's President & CEO Baron Herdelin-Doherty to learn about how the YMCA of San Diego County - the second largest Y in the U.S. - helps support the region's dynamic economy.

Tell us about the YMCA
Our Y is driven to help families thrive as we serve more kids and families than ever before. We provide child care resources, financial assistance and active, healthy fitness programming for all ages that reflect our core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. The YMCA of San Diego County is here for families at each and every stage of their journey. We focus our work in three key areas, because nurturing the potential of kids, helping people live healthier and supporting our neighbors are fundamental to strengthening communities. This year, we have secured new sites and are expanding existing sites to be able support even more families in the years to come. Since 2010, we have secured an incredible $43M in capital campaign contributions alone and we are especially thrilled to be very close to completion on the Copley-Price Family YMCA by the end of 2014. The Y is so much more than a gym. We touch the lives of nearly one out of every eight people in our community. For 132 years, we’ve been proud to help our neighbors learn, grow and thrive. 
YMCA on San Diego's talent pool

What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?
The communities of San Diego County are so incredibly diverse and we are thrilled to be able to serve all. Throughout San Diego County, countless people know the YMCA. But there’s so much more to our Y than one might think. From exercise to education, from volleyball to volunteerism, from preschool to preventive health, the Y doesn’t just strengthen our bodies. It strengthens our community. We are the second largest Y in the US in part because of our location. San Diego attracts the best and brightest minds. We are able to keep great leaders because of all the attributes of the region.

San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.
I immediately think of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Not only are they committed to energy efficiency but environmental stewardship is an essential part of its culture and day-to-day business. They are vested in the quality-of-life of our region, and they give back and volunteer to improve our communities. For nearly fifteen years, San Diego Gas & Electric has been the exclusive sponsor of the YMCA’s Character Development program, a year-round focus on teaching and demonstrating the core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility in all Y programs.

What do you anticipate for your company in five years?
Research shows that families who spend more time together are stronger and happier. Over the next five years, the Y will focus on strengthening families in even bigger and better ways. The Y is committed to providing the memberships, programs, activities, facilities, and resources to help more families in San Diego County thrive.

 With 20 membership facilities, three overnight camps and multiple locations focused on childcare and youth and family services, we see opportunity to improve our services. We aim to expand to  over 400,000 existing members and program participants, progressively engaging new families among the 3.2 million residents of San Diego County in youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.  By 2020, we want to have more Y family branch locations within 5 miles of every resident in the region. Additionally, we want every Sunday night to be YMCA Family Night. We will provide tools to help families track how much time they spend together and help them make plans to spend more time together. We hope you’ll engage more deeply with the Y as we officially launch our “Family Strengthening” vision in 2015.


The Y- more than you know:

September 23, 2014
Ace Parking Logo

Keith B. Jones is more than your average business owner. As managing principal and partner of Ace Parking, he knows San Diego very well. Jones’ family and Ace Parking have called San Diego home for three generations. 

He has witnessed San Diego evolve into a world-class city. The way he sees it, if we want to continue to be a “gateway to the Pacific” we must rethink the way we see space in downtown San Diego and beyond.

EDC sat down with him to talk about why Ace is proud to call San Diego home and how he sees the future of the region.

Tell us about Ace Parking

Ace Parking is the last of the family owned and run parking companies that operates across the United States. Our clients hire Ace Parking because we are the industry leaders in delivering memorable customer service experiences, increasing parking revenue returns and embracing new technologies to ensure objectives are being met. We are able to differentiate ourselves from our competition because there really is a heart and soul behind our family firm. We approach all of our clients as if we are going to do business together for the next 30 years, therefore we strive to always operate with integrity and honesty.

What are some advantages of doing business in San Diego?

Why San Diego - Ace Parking

When I travel across the country to do business, it’s great to say that I'm from San Diego and that's where my company’s corporate headquarters are. I love promoting San Diego and talking about more than just our weather. People are interested and intrigued when I say we are not a cul-de-sac at the end of the road; San Diego is actually a Mega Gateway Region to the Pacific and the rest of the world, thriving with innovation. I love the fact that my office has been located in downtown San Diego for over 65 years.

San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

I'm a big fan of other family companies, and I think the Spanos family is truly on top of their game. A.G. Spanos is now the CEO of the Chargers and it's amazing to see how dedicated this family and organization is to the San Diego community. They truly do want to live, work and play here. We must recognize the power of being an NFL city and do more to help them achieve their business goals within our region, so they can stay committed to having their team located in San Diego.

Another local company doing amazing and visionary things is OliverMcMillan. Dene Oliver, CEO, and Paul Buss, President of OM, are both at the top of their game. Their firm is widely admired for building exciting, breathtaking mixed-use projects all across the country. OliverMcMillan is a great ambassador of San Diego and is now considered the gold standard in transformational design and urban mega-block redevelopment in the United States.

 What do you anticipate for your company in five years?

In five years I want to remain a thriving, civically engaged family owned and operated company.  My belief is that if you uphold your team members and clients as paramount to your organization, then good things will happen both to the organization and to our customers.

What do you anticipate for San Diego?

San Diego needs to embrace that we have pressures on our infrastructure and must work as a community. We need to start making progress toward building up and growing up. If we accept regulation and prohibitive growth policies, then great opportunities that are currently in our region and those that may otherwise be attracted to our region will be forced to go elsewhere. The civic leaders we have in our community are very intelligent and capable individuals.  I'm excited to be part of the strategic dialogue as we transform our region.

September 19, 2014

Download a printable version



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. Click images to enlarge in a new tab/window.


  • As predicted, August marked the rebound from the seasonal effects experienced in the previous two months.
  • At 6.2 percent, San Diego’s unemployment rate fell in August by 0.7 percentage points from July. In addition, unemployment was down 1.5 points from August 2013.
  • San Diego’s unemployment rate was lower than the California average, and returned below the U.S. average.
  • The region gained 3,500 jobs from July to August, and added 34,200 jobs since last year.
  • A booming construction industry added 6,800 jobs since August 2013, a more than 10.8 percent increase over the year.
  • The manufacturing industry added 2,200 jobs since the previous August.
  • Staffing services grew by more than 2.5 percent since last year, indicating demand for hiring services.
  • San Diego’s traded economies continued to drive much of the monthly and annual employment growth.

[Unemployment Chart]

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for the August 2014 period. At 6.2 percent San Diego County’s unemployment rate dropped 0.7 points from July to August, and fell by 1.5 points from this time last year. The unemployment rate in the region remained lower than California’s average, and returned to below the U.S. average of 6.3. As predicted in previous monthly reports, August began the seasonal decline of the unemployment rate. However, unlike the U.S. jobs report released earlier this month, August’s decline in San Diego was not driven by a lower labor force. In fact, San Diego’s labor force increased by 5,500 from July to August, as 6,600 less people registered as unemployed.

[Employment Chart]

When looking at employment growth, we’ve continued to see positive signs of steady growth, particularly in San Diego’s private sector. From July to August, the region added 3,500 jobs, more than 82 percent of which came from the private sector. The private sector added 2,900 jobs from July to August, a sign of continued economic growth. When looking at overall growth since last August, the region’s economy added 34,200 jobs, a 2.6 percent increase. Meanwhile, the region’s private sector grew by more than 3 percent over that period. With unemployment down and the economy consistently adding jobs, it appears as though many job seekers are finding landing spots as the economy continues to improve, and much of the growth is in middle-to-high paying industries.

[Growth Chart]

San Diego’s traded economies continued to drive much of the region’s employment growth. Professional, scientific and technical services (PST), heavily associated with innovation, added 1,600 jobs since July 2014, which accounted for more than half of private sector job growth since July. PST added 7,800 jobs since August 2013, for an annual growth rate of an impressive 6.2 percent, well above the economy-wide average of 2.6 percent. PST includes subsectors like scientific research and development, which is a key driver of our life sciences. This subsector grew by more than 4.2 percent over the year.

San Diego’s tourism industry began its seasonal decline, losing 2,700 jobs from July to August. However, the industry added 3,600 jobs since August 2013, indicating that the industry is still performing well. Health care and social services was another major contributor, adding 5,700 jobs since August 2013. Combined, PST, Tourism and Health Care accounted for more than half of the region’s annual private employment growth.

San Diego’s goods producing industries continued their steady employment growth. Manufacturing remained flat from July to August, but added a total of 2,200 jobs since August 2013. Meanwhile, the construction industry continued to boom. The industry added 500 jobs from July to August and 6,800 jobs since August 2013, for an astounding 10.9 percent annual growth rate. Combined, the manufacturing and construction industries accounted for more than one quarter of private employment growth from 2013 to 2014.

[Construction Chart]

The August employment report confirmed that much of the negativity that we saw in June and July were simply seasonal effects and not indicative of any negative trend. The recession is clearly in the rear-view mirror and has been for some time. May 2011 was the last month in which San Diego didn’t record a year-over-year job gain. We haven’t even experienced a month-to-month loss in private employment in 2014, an indication of how steadily the economy has been growing so far this year. Finally, the unemployment rate declined as a result of job-seekers finding employment, not job-seekers leaving the labor force, an important sign of a healthy regional economy.

Note: Our Economic Indicators Dashboard will show how our unemployment rate compares to other US metros and the US total rate when that information is released in the coming weeks.

Read more:



September 15, 2014

Last week, we launched our Investor Spotlight series, which is designed to give everyone a closer look at the companies and people that make our economic development work possible. By connecting the dots, these investors give us a better understanding of how San Diego is leading the next wave of global growth. 

Pristine Environments Logo

This week, we sat down with Brian Snow, CEO of Pristine Environment, a facility management company that counts some of the world's biggest - and most cutting-edge - companies as its clients. When the world-renowned Venter Institute set out to develop the world's first Net Zero Lab that is also a LEED platinum certified , they called on  Pristine Environments and its sustainability team lead by Yann Palmore for help.. With a commitment to sustainability in mind, they collaborate with local companies and organizations, including SDSU and SDG&E, that share similar values.


1) Tell us about Pristine Environments
Pristine Environments’ manages, maintains and optimizes the performance of mission critical facilities for corporate real estate owners in nearly 75 Million of specialized buildings throughout North America. From life sciences, aerospace, datacenters, oil & gas, luxury retail, sports technology + fitness and commercial real estate, our team of  nearly 1,500 professionals keeps these industries buildings and facilitates operating efficiently, sustainably and on budget. 

Why Pristine Environments Chose San Diego

Most recently our building intelligence and energy solutions practice completed the construction of the worlds’ first “Net Zero Energy” laboratory campus in the world. Located in La Jolla, the J. Craig Venter Institute, the world’s leading genomics research organization, developed a new research  facility that is the first LEED Platinum building to achieve Net Zero. Remarkably, the building produces more energy than it uses and conserves and collects nearly as much water as it uses. Our facilities’ teams are providing these types of bleeding edge solutions to our clients throughout North America to help dramatically lower their energy and carbon foot print and to create a more intelligent built environment. 

2) What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?
As the CEO of the company, I relocated to San Diego last year after having acquired a company located in the region, since our firm at the time did not have a presence in the western states. I had choice to stay working from our main corporate office in Washington DC or relocated to be closer to our new west coast offices. The decision to move to San Diego was much more than weather driven, I realized very quickly that running a company with offices all over North America was more efficient from the west coast. Taking advantage of the time zone difference has allowed me to create a better work life balance for my family, my working colleagues and myself. 

But now that I have been in San Diego for over a year, I have come to appreciate the depth of knowledge, experience and talent in this market that is uncommon. Most of our national customers have mission critical operations in Southern California and because the demands and regulatory challenges in our state are uniquely complex, being close to our clients and   operations, allows me greater insight into the solutions we need to stay competitive nationally. 

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.
Lankford & Associates has been a prominent real estate developer in San Diego for over 30 years and are responsible for developing a number of well recognized buildings in the region. As the downtown core real estate market has become more of a tourist and business center, Lankford & Associates, has set out to redevelop a portion of downtown called “Makers Quarter” in East Village—the vision, passion and energy for this project has been driven by Stacey Lankford Pennington who has a goal of recreating this part of downtown into a blended mix of hip urban retail, a destination for innovative companies that want the ultimate balance between work, life and urban living. 

4) What's in store for Pristine Environments in the next five years?
Our company has made a long -term commitment to the region having moved a significant portion of our corporate finance, human resources, and IT operations to San Diego. This includes our CFO and his entire national accounting team along with our COO and Chief Sustainability Officer. We anticipate our investment in the market to continue as we look for additional investment and acquisition opportunities to acquire additional operating companies in the western region of the country. Our client base, which we referenced above, is continuing to grow throughout the region in numerous specialized sectors. Clients like Apple, SDG&E, SDSU and Scripps to name a few, have committed long term strategic capital and other resources to this region—we  expect to continue to serve these clients through their growth and benefit from the intellectual capital that our region is so well known for having created. 

Subscribe to our blog


September 9, 2014

EDC has great investors. From Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, we have investors that are contributing to the local economy, creating jobs, mobilizing the community-at-large, and serving as the backbone of San Diego’s vibrant economy.  

Introducing the Investor Spotlight Series: Every week, we will take a closer look at one company or organization that is underwriting our economic development efforts. Not only do these companies accelerate our economy, but together, they are writing our regional narrative and illustrating how San Diego serves as a magnet for investment, talent and innovation. Their business decisions drive our region's economic growth and answer the question: Why San Diego?

Steve Stoloff, Founder and CEO, VaVI

To kick this series off, we spoke with Vavi Sports & Social Club CEO Steve Stoloff. Since 2002, VAVi Sport & Social Club has brought together adults who want to have fun in San Diego through a variety of sports leagues, social events, vacations and volunteer opportunities.  An Inc. 5000's fastest growing company, VAVi  has chosen to locate in San Diego, but the year round sunshine isn’t the only reason the region is the headquarters for this sports and active lifestyle company.  Behind the curtain is an entrepreneurial and innovative company that’s helping organizations across the country rethink the way they produce large scale events.

Here’s what Steve had to say:

1) Tell us about VAVi

VAVi brings fun to life!  We are Southern California’s largest organizer of co-ed social sports and activities for active young professionals. Over 90,000 members in San Diego participate in our softball, kickball, dodgeball and soccer leagues and attend our social events like the New Year’s Eve Beach Party at the Catamaran Resort in Pacific Beach.  We also launched several 5k obstacle races, including the Del Mar Mud Run and the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge 5k (better known as the ROC Race).  We also are very active in the community, and in the past few years, we’ve raised nearly $200,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation through our events and activities. 

2) What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?

VaVI Sports and Social Club

San Diego is the perfect home for a sports and active lifestyle business.  With perfect weather year-round, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and get active.  Our event calendar runs from January through December, with small breaks for the holidays.  We partner with similar organizations all across the country, and they have to shut down the majority of their activities during the winter months – that’s simply not the case here!   San Diego is also a great sports town, and the sports business community is thriving.  Organizations like San Diego Sport Innovators help bring like-minded entrepreneurs together and those connections accelerate innovation and growth!

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Carlsbad is home to the Action Sports and Olympics Division of the Wasserman Media Group.  Steve Astephen, John Lee and the Wasserman team represent athletes at the top of their game – they represented 25 athletes in the recent Winter Olympics held in Sochi, and 7 of their athletes medaled!   They are a leader in the Sports and Active Lifestyle industry, and are very active in the local business community. 

4) What’s in store for VAVi in the next five years?
I expect VAVi to continue to be the leader in adult recreational sports for many years to come.  In a world that’s increasingly digital, people need an outlet to unplug and have some fun.  Experiences are increasingly becoming a new form of luxury, and our events provide great conversation for the proverbial water cooler (not to mention, the photos are great Facebook fodder, too).   We are continuously adapting and innovating, so some of our events may no longer exist, but I’m sure we’ll come up with new ideas to take their place. 

5) What’s next for San Diego?

I expect San Diego to continue to grow and thrive just like VAVi.  Many of the brightest innovators and entrepreneurs in the country call San Diego home, and with organizations like EDC helping to support local economic development, I’m excited to see what the next five years has in store.

Subscribe to our blog