EDC welcomes Jennie Brooks as new board chair

As San Diego Regional EDC continues to drive an inclusive growth and recovery strategy for the region, outgoing Board Chair Julian Parra passes the gavel to Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton.

“After five years on the board, I look forward to taking on this new role and working even more closely with EDC’s team. Our mission is to drive greater inclusion, resilience, and innovation across San Diego—aimed at empowering and supporting our region and its people,” said Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton and leader of the firm’s regional office, which employees more than 1,200 San Diegans. 

While San Diego’s innovation economy has more than rebounded, local small businesses, tourism and service jobs, lower income communities, and people of color continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic; and the goalposts outlined in the Inclusive Growth Initiative are now farther from reach. It is imperative the region create more skilled talent, economically-stabilizing jobs, and thriving households, or San Diego’s competitiveness is at risk.

“I am proud to pass the gavel to my colleague and friend Jennie Brooks,“ said outgoing Chair Julian Parra of Bank of America, who led EDC through the pandemic, in directly supporting more businesses than ever before. “The necessity of economic inclusion has never been more clear; I have full faith Jennie will continue this important work for the betterment of our region, its people, and its employers.”

As chair, Brooks is supported by four officers: Vice Chair, Rob Douglas, President & COO, ResMed; Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth, Lisette Islas, EVP & Chief Impact Officer, MAAC; Treasurer, Tom Seidler, SVP Community & Military Affairs, San Diego Padres; and Secretary, Barbara Wight, CFO, Taylor Guitars.

Along with the election of a new chair, EDC’s board also elected eight new board members: Debora Burke, Vice President and General Counsel, General Dynamics NASSCO; Kimberly Brewer, Senior Vice President, Development, URW; Cliff Cho, SVP and Market Executive, Bank of America; Kelly Davis, Chief Strategy Officer, SVP of Operations, Sony Electronics; Ingo Hentschel, Senior Vice President, Cox Communications; Jason Jager, Senior Partner & Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group; Tracy Murphy, President, IQHQ; Deborah Nguyen, Site Head & Vice President, Head of GI / Inflammation Drug Discovery Unit, Takeda San Diego; and Karen Reinhardt, Head of U.S. HR, ASML.

EDC is a membership-based non-profit organization that mobilizes government and civic leaders around an inclusive economic development strategy in order to connect data to decision making, maximize regional prosperity, enhance global competitiveness and position San Diego effectively for investment and talent. The organization’s nearly 200 investors range from growing startups like SkySafe, to the region’s largest employers like Qualcomm and SDG&E, to the leading anchor institutions such as universities, hospitals, and sports franchises, among others.

EMPLOYER LED, DEMAND DRIVEN, OUTCOMES BASED
With nearly 200 members, EDC represents just a small fraction of the region’s employers. It is only with and through a broader group of stakeholders that the following Inclusive Growth goals will be met:

  • 100,000 new quality jobs in small businesses
  • 20,000 skilled workers per year
  • 75,000 newly thriving households

As such, EDC will continue to enlist the endorsement and support of key regional partners and employers committed to using the Inclusive Growth framework to inform their priorities, tactics, and resource allocation.

“As a senior leader of a major consulting and technology employer in San Diego, Jennie is perfectly positioned to lead EDC in this unique moment in time,” said Mark Cafferty, President & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “With a pandemic still not behind us, Jennie’s leadership, commitment, and deep understanding of San Diego’s strengths and opportunities are exactly what the organization needs as we continue to make the business case for inclusion.”

Learn more at inclusiveSD.org

Red Door Interactive unveils new HQ in Sherman Heights

EDC, local leaders cut the ribbon on Red Door’s innovative office space

Today, EDC member Red Door Interactive, a national, award-winning marketing agency, unveiled its new San Diego headquarters alongside EDC and staff from Councilmember Vivian Moreno’s office at a ribbon cutting ceremony. Reflective of Red Door’s company culture and vision for the future of the modern workplace, the company’s three-building campus features panoramic views of Downtown San Diego, a variety of collaboration hubs, seven outdoor patio spaces, an urban garden, and state-of-the-art technology for interactive video conferencing throughout the campus, among other amenities for its 90-person staff to enjoy.

For Red Door, the project has been years in the making; the company originally purchased the land in Sherman Heights, a designated Opportunity Zone, for its new headquarters in 2020. Despite a variety of pandemic-fueled hurdles, construction for the project was crafted entirely by local vendors including AVRP, Swinerton, Cultura, and many more.

“We’re excited to bring our diverse team of talented, creative minds to this neighborhood,” Reid Carr, CEO and co-founder of Red Door Interactive, said. “This is not only a place of work for us, but a home for the work we do as a collective. We built this campus with an eye toward the future of work, along with the ability to reflect some of the best San Diego has to offer—outdoor spaces, accessibility, and the spirit of its unique neighborhoods.

With 20 years in offices in Downtown San Diego, including an award-winning, ground floor space in the DiamondView Tower at Petco Park, this new headquarters marks a bold move to a nearby neighborhood. It also represents Red Door’s commitment to physically coming together as a team, while also continuing to openly support hybrid and remote work—a philosophy the company embraced long before the pandemic.

Red Door hopes its new campus is a step toward bringing more awareness and investment to Sherman Heights. The neighborhood has long been regarded as a vibrant, historic place, rich in culture with fantastic views of downtown, Coronado, and the Bay—but it’s also centrally located around some of San Diego’s greatest assets. Sherman Heights provides easy access to Interstates 5 and 15, and state Routes 163 and 94. It’s also a few minutes from the San Diego International Airport and walkable to Balboa Park, and the unique neighborhoods of East Village, Golden Hill, and Barrio Logan.

EDC’s Mark Cafferty shares, “Reid and the team at Red Door Interactive have always been stewards of our region—investing in organizations like EDC and charting paths for other local companies in San Diego’s urban core. Twenty years ago, the company began a movement in East Village that proved to be monumental for the growth of Downtown. We know Red Door will bring that same vision, passion, and creativity to the historic and vibrant Sherman Heights community.”

Public, private leaders announce commitment to Inclusive Growth

County, City, academic, and private sector leaders announce commitment to inclusive economic growth

Today at its Report to the Community event, San Diego Regional EDC shared progress against the 2030 inclusive growth goals outlined pre-pandemic in 2018. With new data and bold objectives set around increasing the number of skilled talent, quality jobs, and thriving households critical to the region’s competitiveness, County and City of San Diego officials as well as leaders in the private sector, education, and philanthropy offered their shared commitments to economic inclusion.

“EDC’s recent analysis underscores the significant impact of the pandemic on San Diego’s under-resourced communities and small businesses,” said Julian Parra, Business Banking Region Executive at Bank of America and EDC Board Chair. “To drive meaningful economic change, a diverse set of stakeholders must step up or the issues facing our economy—talent shortages, skills gaps, and a soaring cost of living—will further challenge San Diego’s economic competitiveness.”

The innovation economy has made San Diego more prosperous than many of its peers—leading the region out of the COVID-spurred economic recession as it has in past downturns—but remains inaccessible to the fastest-growing segment of the region’s population. At no surprise, the goalposts EDC outlined four years ago are now farther from reach in the wake of the pandemic.

With nearly 200 members, EDC represents just a small fraction of the region’s employers. It is only with and through a broader group of stakeholders that more quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households in San Diego is possible. As such, EDC has enlisted the endorsement of key regional partners and employers that have committed to using the Inclusive Growth framework to inform their priorities, tactics, and resource allocation.

Hear some of those commitments:

 

“The County shares a deep commitment to the framework outlined by EDC. In order to help regionalize these Inclusive Growth goals, the County has created the Office of Economic Prosperity and Community Development that will prioritize significant investments in our communities as well as uplift our local businesses,” said Vice Chair Nora Vargas, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “Our inclusive work is centered on achieving an equitable economic recovery that ensures prosperity for all San Diegans.”

“Employing more than 1,200 San Diegans, we understand the criticality of large employers fostering a robust talent pipeline who can afford to live and thrive here,” said Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton and EDC Vice Chair. “We are committed to advancing these goals by mentoring the next generation of women leaders through partnerships with local organizations like Girl Scouts San Diego; creating opportunities through our Mil/Tech Workforce Initiative to help military veterans build on their experiences and upskill into quality tech careers; and providing the flexibility that employees need in today’s dynamic work-life environment.”

The pandemic’s impact to progress: Jobs, talent, households

In its new analysis, available at progress.inclusivesd.org, EDC quantifies the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the regional economy and reports progress toward the 2030 goals. Takeaways include:

  1. QUALITY JOBS:
    While the region saw an overall increase in the number of quality jobs* since 2017, the disparity between quality jobs in small and large firms grew. The jobs losses of 2020 were principally concentrated in lower paying jobs at small businesses, especially those held by people of color. Meanwhile, larger firms added quality jobs in haste. In order to compete on talent, small businesses need new, reliable customers. San Diego’s large buyers can support quality job growth and ensure supply chain resilience by spending more with small, local businesses.
  1. SKILLED TALENT:
    Since 2016, all job growth has been in positions that require some form of degree or credential acquired through post-secondary education (PSE). Looking forward, it is projected that 84 percent of new jobs created between now and 2030 will also require PSE. Hispanics represent one-third of San Diego’s total population but only 15 percent of degree holders. Further, nearly half of middle school students are Hispanic but are statistically the least prepared for the jobs of the future. To address employers’ hiring challenges long-term, the region must invest in college readiness for more San Diego students.
  1. THRIVING HOUSEHOLDS:
    Rapidly rising home prices—up more than 30 percent in the last two years alone—coupled with jobs losses have resulted in almost 11,000 fewer thriving households** in 2020 than in 2017. Further, the region lost 3,200 licensed childcare facilities due to business closures amid the pandemic. Rising costs and access to childcare, transportation, and broadband—disproportionately felt by people of color—will leave businesses unable to retain or recruit talent from outside of the region.

While the innovation cluster has more than rebounded from the pandemic, the talent challenges employers face will only worsen and threaten their growth across San Diego. A concerted commitment to Inclusive Growth must be made; the region’s competitiveness depends on it.

The initiative is sponsored by Bank of America, HomeFed Corporation, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southwest Airlines, The San Diego Foundation, University of San Diego School of Business, City of San Diego, and County of San Diego.

Read the full report at progress.inclusiveSD.org.

join the movement

*Quality job = $44K wages + healthcare benefits.

**Thriving household = total income covers cost of living for renter- or owner-occupied households, at $796K and $122K respectively.

Study: AI helps catalyze 10% employment growth in San Diego Transportation cluster through the pandemic

San Diego Regional EDC study quantifies the impact of AI in region’s Transportation cluster

Today, alongside Booz Allen Hamilton, San Diego Regional EDC released the third study in a series on the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) within San Diego County’s key economic clusters. “Mobilizing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Transportation Cluster” quantifies the economic impact of the region’s Transportation cluster and explores how AI and ML technologies have helped position San Diego as a global trade hub.

While people begin to get more comfortable with the notion of autonomous-driving cars, San Diego is deploying AI and ML in Transportation even beyond consumer use. One in three Transportation and related Manufacturing companies in San Diego are either developing or adopting AI and ML technologies, thus achieving levels of precision and accuracy otherwise unattainable by humans. This is measurably higher than the average engagement rate of 25 percent across all industries.

Local startups like Airspace and Boxton are enabling the shipment of goods in the quickest, most cost effective way; large firms Lytx® and TuSimple are improving safety in transportation; established brands Cubic and SANDAG are streamlining travel and commutes for individuals; and defense contractors BAE Systems and General Dynamics NASSCO are mobilizing troops and supplies to drive mission success and safety.

Underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, the web-based study—transportation.sandiegoAI.org—includes video case studies on local Transportation companies, details on the $11 billion economic impact of the Transportation cluster including interactive data visuals, and demonstrates overall how the region’s rapid adoption of AI in Transportation has helped propel San Diego into the global magnet it is today.

“San Diego is home to some of the most innovative and influential Transportation technology companies in the world. The rapid development and adoption of AI in Transportation has uniquely positioned the region as a leader in solving global challenges such as climate change and supply chain disruptions brought about by the pandemic,” said Eduardo Velasquez, Research Director at San Diego Regional EDC.

KEY FINDINGS

  • San Diego’s Transportation cluster is big and growing. The cluster supports more than 90,000 local jobs and contributes $11 billion to the regional economy each year. Despite the pandemic, employment in the cluster has increased 10 percent during the last five years.
  • AI and ML in transportation is much more than just autonomous vehicles. Local developers are creating AI- and ML-based solutions to optimize shipping routes, automate and secure mass-transit fare collection systems, improve safety on roadways, and achieve extreme precision in the manufacturing of ships and aircraft.
  • The Transportation cluster drives global connectivity and competitiveness. These innovations bring enormous economic benefit to the region, including advanced manufacturing jobs, while propelling San Diego’s role in the global marketplace.

“It is important to remember that transportation in San Diego includes not only our personal vehicles, but also a globally connected market supported by an international border crossing, a shipping port, and an international airport,” said Joe Rohner, Director of Artificial Intelligence at Booz Allen Hamilton and leader of the firm’s West Coast AI business. “The study series continues to illustrate how the implementation of AI and ML technologies across diverse industries is perpetuating San Diego’s leadership in tackling global challenges. Booz Allen is ready to engage with our region’s leaders and industry partners to support this work.” Booz Allen employs approximately 1,400 professionals in San Diego, working on cybersecurity, analytics, engineering, and IT modernization.

Transportation is a key and rapidly growing piece of the San Diego regional economy. While employment in all other sectors contracted 2.3 percent since 2016, Transportation employment saw 10 percent growth even amid the coronavirus pandemic. This includes Transportation Manufacturing, Logistics and Freight, Passenger Transportation including Mass Transit, and Other Transportation Services. Importantly, each Transportation job creates another job in other local industries; this means 4,000 more jobs have been created elsewhere in the economy due to Transportation’s 10 percent growth over the last five years.

“At Lytx, we combine video telematics with machine vision (MV), AI, and driving data to help solve the transportation industry’s most critical problems, like distracted driving. We pioneered the use of MV + AI in fleet management solutions, and we firmly believe in this powerful technology’s ability to empower drivers, protect fleets, and create safer roadways—in San Diego and around the world,” said Rajesh Rudraradhya, Chief Technology Officer at Lytx. “The latest report in the series by EDC reinforces the importance of implementing advanced technologies such as AI and the increasing need for companies like ours to continue to innovate and improve outcomes in this space; doing so fuels regional growth while also increasing driver safety.”

With this growth, and a unique convergence of public and private entities, among other factors, San Diego’s Transportation cluster is leading in the global fight against climate change and supply chain disruption.

The study series is underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton and produced by San Diego Regional EDC. This report was sponsored by Northrop Grumman and Lytx.

Read the full study at transportation.sandiegoAI.org

Read the full AI series

Blue Sky Network wins $25K MetroConnect V export grand prize

World Trade Center San Diego and nearly 250 voting audience award $25K for international expansion

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) named Blue Sky Network, which provides satellite-based communications and fleet management solutions for aviation, maritime, and IoT customers, as the winner of the MetroConnect export accelerator program, now in its fifth year. Made possible through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Procopio, Blue Sky Network will use the $25,000 award to expand its presence in Brazil and promote the launch of its new SkyLink product in global markets.

“Blue Sky Network is the perfect reflection of San Diego’s innovation economy coming together, leveraging our excellence in defense and technology now on an international stage,” said Lucas Coleman, senior manager at WTCSD. “The results from MetroConnect’s fifth cohort are impressive. Whether it’s alleviating supply chain processes in Australia or cultivating leads in Korea, Brazil and the UK amid incredible economic uncertainty, working to connect small and medium-sized businesses to international markets builds greater resilience here at home.”

Blue Sky Network beat out three other finalists in MetroConnect V: White Labs, Inc., SIDUS Solutions, and Mayan Robotics. The grand prize-winning company was decided by a 250-person voting audience via virtual events platform Whova, a former MetroConnect participant. Prior to this, a committee of senior international business leaders in San Diego helped the WTCSD team nominate these top four performers out of the initial 15-company cohort.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

In its first five years, MetroConnect has helped 80 local, small and mid-sized businesses generate a net increase of $95 million in international sales, 543 international contracts, and 22 overseas facilities. This international growth has coincided with 269 new hires here in the San Diego region.

Each cohort year, WTCSD selects 15 export-ready small and mid-sized businesses to receive $5,000 export grants, access to executive workshops, translation software, discounted international airfare, and a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize to aid in further international market expansion. Applications for year six of the MetroConnect program are now open through December 17. Interested small- and medium-sized companies that are looking to pursue international sales as a near-term priority or already exporting its goods or services may apply here.

Apply by Dec 17

GLOBAL CONNECTION TO BOOST RESILIENCE

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the national rhetoric around global trade has shifted. According to The World Bank, countries that trade internationally enjoy more economic growth, are more innovative and productive, and can provide more opportunities to citizens. San Diego is no exception—regional small businesses that export tend to have a larger and more diversified customer base, pick up best practices from global competitors, build up economies of scale, and ultimately pay their employees more. Access to international customers and markets is essential in helping San Diego’s business community recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, as small businesses employ 60 percent of San Diegans.

“We’ve successfully navigated an incredibly challenging global environment over the past year and a half and the MetroConnect program has helped exceed our international sales targets,” said Gregoire Demory, president at Blue Sky Network, MetroConnect V grand prize winner. “We look forward to using MetroConnect’s additional funding to keep promoting the Blue Sky Network brand and our new SkyLink product overseas.”

“Since 2015, JPMorgan Chase has been proud to support MetroConnect, helping San Diego businesses successfully navigate complex global markets and create new local opportunities,” said Aaron Ryan, Executive Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase. “San Diego is one of the best places for innovation, and we are excited to help these businesses maximize our region’s international potential.”

WTCSD hosted its MetroConnect Grand Prize PitchFest virtually on November 15, with keynote remarks by MetroConnect underwriters Dennis Doucette, Partner at Procopio, and Aaron Ryan, Executive Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase.

READY TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS GLOBAL?

WTCSD has year-round, non-exclusive international opportunities that help companies break expand internationally, such as the Export Specialty SBDC and strategy for global engagement. To learn about more WTCSD initiatives, events, and programs, visit WTCSD.org.

EDC appoints Lisette Islas as Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth

New role to align EDC programmatic and governance decisions; ensure progress toward 2030 regional goals

Today, San Diego Regional EDC announces the appointment of its new Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth, Lisette Islas. As San Diego begins to recover from a global pandemic that has disproportionately impacted small businesses and people of color, the region must double down on its inclusive growth goals by creating skilled talent, economically-stabilizing jobs and thriving households.

“Unanimously approved by the board of directors, EDC is proud to welcome Lisette as our first-ever Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth. With a career grounded in inclusion and community, she is the perfect person for the job—prioritizing programs that ensure an economic recovery that affords all San Diegans opportunities,” said Julian Parra, Region Executive at Bank of America and EDC Board Chair.

A board member of EDC since May 2018, Islas is the EVP and Chief Impact Officer at MAAC, a non-profit providing programs and advocacy in the areas of health, education, workforce development, and housing throughout San Diego County. With more than twenty years of experience working in community development and philanthropy at leading, local organizations including the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and San Diego Grantmakers (now Catalyst), Islas is passionate about helping underserved communities be more prosperous and civically engaged. In her new role as Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth at EDC, Islas will ensure alignment between EDC programmatic and governance decisions, and track progress toward the Inclusive Growth goals reported annually at a community event.

“Everything we do as an economic development organization ties back to our Inclusive Growth priorities. Our time, resources, and programs are devoted to building a strong local talent pipeline; equipping small businesses to compete; and addressing the affordability crisis. I can think of no one better to guide us on this path than Lisette. We are honored to see her fill the role in this critical time,” said Mark Cafferty, President & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC.

INCLUSION AS A BUSINESS IMPERATIVE

Launched in 2018 and informed by a partnership with the Brookings Institution, EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative outlines the region’s economic priorities and makes the business case for economic inclusion—putting the onus not on the philanthropy or government but instead on the region’s major corporations, employers, and anchors.

The innovation economy has made San Diego more prosperous than many of its peers—leading the region out the COVID-spurred economic recession as it has in downturn’s past—but it is not accessible by the fastest-growing segment of the region’s population.

“Every crisis and recovery that the U.S. economy has endured has increased systemic poverty and widened inequalities in Black and Brown communities. As I take on this new role with EDC, I’m committed to working together with the region’s leading employers to get this recovery right. San Diego’s economic competitiveness depends on it,” said Lisette Islas, Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth, San Diego Regional EDC.

To fuel San Diego’s recovery and growth, it’s pertinent that a regional coalition of diverse stakeholders committed to programs that are demand-driven, employer-led, and outcomes-based commit to the following goals:

  1. Build a strong local talent pipeline: To meet the demands of San Diego’s future economy, the region must double the local production of skilled workers to 20,000 annual degree or credential completions by 2030. This means ensuring Black and Latino young people have the opportunity to achieve at the same rate as their white peers. talent.inclusiveSD.org
  2. Equip small businesses to compete: Small businesses make up the majority of firms and employment in San Diego. To ensure opportunity exists for a skilled workforce, the region must create 50,000 quality jobs* within small business by 2030. This means better connecting small businesses to big customers to drive resiliency. smallbiz.inclusiveSD.org
  3. Address the affordability crisis: Ensuring San Diego is an attractive and affordable place for talent and business is critical to maintaining its regional competitiveness. For the region to recover and thrive, 75,000 new thriving households** must be created by 2030. This means prioritizing access to and affordability of the essential infrastructure that working families rely upon—like housing, childcare, and broadband—so that 55 percent of households meet San Diego’s true cost of living. affordability.inclusiveSD.org

Islas is supported by five officers as part of EDC’s Governance Committee: Chair, Julian Parra, Region Executive, Bank of America; Vice Chair, Rob Douglas, President and COO, ResMed; Vice Chair, Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton; Treasurer, Phil Blair, President and CEO at Manpower San Diego; and Secretary, Tom Seidler, SVP Community and Military Affairs, San Diego Padres.

inclusiveSD.org

Hear more from Lisette here

Study release: AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster

EDC study quantifies the impact of AI in region’s Cybersecurity cluster

Today, alongside Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) and Booz Allen Hamilton, EDC released the second study in a series on the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) within San Diego County’s key economic clusters. “Securing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster” quantifies the economic impact of the region’s Cybersecurity cluster and explores the proliferation of AI and ML technologies being used to thwart cybercrimes, among other critical needs by the private-sector and government.

While the term “Cyber” has become household nomenclature only in the past decade or so, the industry dates back 50 years. As cyberattacks and ransomware threats on local mega-brands fill our headlines, and our digital and non-digital worlds further integrate, the importance of and need for Cybersecurity cannot be overstated.

Underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, the web-based study—cyber.sandiegoAI.org—includes a timeline on the history of Cybersecurity, a roster of recent Defense-Cyber contracts and subsequent job growth, details on the $3.5 billion economic impact of the Cyber cluster, and a set of recommendations for driving the use of AI and ML across the region.

“This series serves to spotlight the importance of AI-ML application within the region’s key industries—which contrary to popular belief—is helping drive productivity, job growth, innovation, and security here and around the globe. While there is work to be done in getting more San Diegans plugged into Cyber and related jobs, the industry has proven to be an engine of growth, even despite disruptions brought on by COVID-19,” said Nate Kelley, Senior Research Manager, San Diego Regional EDC.

Key findings

  • The region’s Cyber companies are significantly more engaged with AI and ML technologies than firms in other industries. Cyber firms are developing AI at a rate 2.5 to three times the regional average. Moreover, half of all Cyber companies implemented AI at least three years ago compared with 43 percent across all industries.
  • AI has generated unparalleled productivity gains. Productivity in the Cyber cluster has grown 7.5 percent since 2018, nearly triple the average for all San Diego industries, thanks to the development and adoption of AI.
  • AI is producing jobs, not eliminating them. Some 61 percent of Cyber businesses plan to hire workers—including AI specialists—in the next year. Moreover, AI has helped the industry to sidestep chronic labor shortages by automating tedious, repeatable tasks and allowing current workers to do more with their time.
  • Talent shortages abound. Despite industry employment growing by 7.4 percent since 2018, 80 to 90 percent of local Cyber companies cited difficulty sourcing qualified workers. The region’s colleges and universities are expanding their course offerings to bridge these gaps, but more must be done to better draw students to these programs.
  • Home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world, San Diego—and its Cyber firms—are positioned for growth. Nearly three in five local Cyber firms work directly or indirectly for the federal government, including the Department of Defense, and 32 percent focus exclusively on fulfilling federal contracts. Defense contracts are typically big, multiyear investments that provide stability to San Diego’s Cyber industry.

“It should come as no surprise that San Diego is at the heart of transforming the defense industrial base leveraging today’s latest technology, while working to mitigate the risks inherent to increased connectivity and data-centric decision making,” said Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton—underwriter of the EDC study series—and leader of the firm’s San Diego office, which employs over 1,200 professionals working on cybersecurity, analytics, engineering and IT modernization. “It’s clear that 5G, AI, ML, and cyber warfare will define our future battlefields, digital, and physical—and while we are encouraged by the report findings, we must all be ready to meet this new mission by fostering Cyber-ready tech talent, investing in up-skilling and reskilling programs, implementing rigorous cyber hygiene practices from the board level down, and coming together as a regional cluster to define how these new technologies will further—and safely—shape the San Diego region in the coming years.”

Cyber is an important and rapidly growing piece of the San Diego regional economy. Notably, every Cyber job generates another job in other industries in the region. The cluster accounts for 24,349 San Diego jobs across 874 firms, and has a total economic impact of $3.5 billion annually. This is about the equivalent of nine Super Bowls or 23 Comic-Cons.

“San Diego’s premier educational institutions, diverse industry base and robust federal assets seed not only the Cyber workforce but the innovation needed to protect our nation,” said Lisa Easterly, President & CEO, CCOE.

The study series is underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton and produced by San Diego Regional EDC. The report was unveiled at a virtual, community event (video recording below) sponsored by CCOE and Thermo Fisher Scientific, with representatives from Booz Allen Hamilton, ESET, Analytics Ventures, Cal State San Marcos, and Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, among others.

Read the full study at cyber.sandiegoAI.org

 

Securing the Future AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster Event Recording.mp4 from San Diego Regional EDC on Vimeo.

NEW: San Diego Business Hub takes small businesses online, boosts resilience

Public-private partnership offering subsidized digital tools for small, diverse businesses

Today, in partnership with local tech company GoSite, EDC launched the San Diego Business Hub, which in its first phase will offer up to 100 small, service-based businesses a full suite of digital tools at no cost. Made possible by grants from The San Diego Foundation and Union Bank, SDbizhub.com is accepting applications from businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic—women, minorities, veterans and other economically under-resourced groups.

The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of companies of all sizes and industries by as much as five years in a 12-month period, with many struggling to keep up. Since the start of 2020, the region has seen nearly 40 percent of its small businesses close. Many of these closures can be attributed to businesses’ inability to quickly pivot online, depriving them of access to customers and key markets.

We also know those hardest hit by the pandemic have been communities of color who are being left further behind in San Diego’s economic recovery.

The proof is in the numbers:

  • Despite making up just 30 percent of the local population, Hispanic and Latinx communities accounted for well over half of all regional COVID-19 cases and two in five related deaths.
  • Additionally, people of color are overrepresented in local industries that were hardest hit during the pandemic (e.g. Hispanics make up 39.8 percent of Hospitality staff and 41.8 percent of Retail staff). As a result, unemployment and loss of income have been concentrated within Black and Brown communities.

The cohort of 100 service-based businesses (e.g. personal care services, transportation, food service, home repair, small contractors, etc.) will receive GoSite’s web-based tools—which payment and invoicing, bookings, review management, customer communications, template websites and more—free of charge for one year.

Thoughts from local leaders:

“Small businesses employ the majority of San Diegans, and it’s essential we invest in their growth, recovery and resiliency if we are going to get this recovery right. This partnership with GoSite allows us to do just that: Provide the digital tools small businesses need to weather future economic downturns,” said Nikia Clarke, Vice President of Economic Development, EDC.

“This partnership is a prime example of how San Diego public, private and civic sectors rally together to solve hard problems. Access to these digital tools will help our region achieve a more equitable recovery and help small businesses struggling today be more resilient as San Diego gets back on track and back to work,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.

“Small businesses face great challenges, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. GoSite’s mission is to help small businesses adapt and succeed, with technology in hand for them to easily communicate with customers, manage online bookings, accept online payments, generate invoices and drive reviews—all in one place,” said Alex Goode, CEO of GoSite. “GoSite is proud to partner with EDC to create the SD Biz Hub and deliver innovative technology resources to San Diego, the place we call headquarters and home.”

“To build long-term economic resilience, San Diego’s small businesses must have resources to sustain their connections to customers and markets,”  shared Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “This is an inspiring example of government, philanthropy and nonprofit sectors coming together to help the small businesses in our neighborhoods survive, recover and grow.”

FAQ and applications are now live, and will remain open until the cohort is full.

SDbizhub.com

Release: San Diego Global Trade and Investment Strategy serves to drive recovery, resilience

World Trade Center San Diego updates 2015 regional plan amid pandemic

Today, alongside Congressman Scott Peters, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and key regional business leaders and in partnership with the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy at UC San Diego, World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) released its “Go Global 2025: San Diego’s Global Trade and Investment Initiative.” This regional strategic plan serves as the update to the inaugural strategy launched in 2015 and focuses on global engagement as an engine for recovery and resilience.

Available on web at goglobal2025.wtcsd.org, the strategic plan also includes an overview of San Diego’s economic and policy landscape, an interactive foreign investment map, perspectives from executives of global firms and more.

THE CASE FOR GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT

As the world collectively battles a pandemic and navigates resulting economic shutdowns, the global economy faces some of the most significant disruptions in a generation. Nations and cities have begun to look inward to focus on domestic needs including healthcare, education, infrastructure, equity and job creation. And yet, if this year has taught us anything, it is that we are a global society that is inextricably connected.

On the road to recovery, it is increasingly important for leaders at the metro level to articulate a compelling, data-driven vision of our place within the global economy and collaboratively execute a strategy that keeps us ahead of the curve.

“San Diego is filled with world-class innovation and smart people solving global problems. Now is the time for our big, binational City to show up on the world stage to help us reach our goals faster,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “As Mayor, I want to tell that story in a way that opens doors and enables more investment, jobs and opportunities for San Diegans and moves our city forward.”

While San Diego exports $22 billion in goods annually, the region is also a top 10 services exporter among U.S. metros. The region’s competitive advantage is in professional, scientific, and technical services, like research and development, cybersecurity, and engineering and software. These industries also capture the highest concentration of foreign direct investment (FDI) via mergers and acquisitions and venture capital investment. In fact, San Diego life sciences firms captured nearly three-quarters of the estimated $3 billion in foreign investment injected into the regional economy last year.

“As the “next normal” takes shape, San Diego needs to continue to prepare for where the economy is going by focusing on our most globally competitive industries. However, we need to be intentional about creating quality jobs at every skill level within those industries, and enabling San Diegans with the tools they need to fill those jobs,” said Nikia Clarke, Executive Director, WTCSD. “This will ensure that our businesses and innovators continue to export life-changing technology, and it will also make all our communities more resilient to future shocks.”

A STRATEGIC PLAN

In order to drive quality job growth through expanding foreign investment and exports, deepen economic ties to strategic markets, and enhance the region’s reputation to drive competitiveness, WTCSD proposes five key strategies for the San Diego region:

  1. Lead with the region’s most competitive industries. Most growth and job creation will come from innovation–based industries.
  1. Leverage binational assets to attract foreign investment. Capture investment along the entire value chain in priority industries.
  1. Prioritize market access for small businesses. Small businesses create the most jobs but face higher barriers to internationalization.
  1. Invest in critical infrastructure that enables global commerce. Modernize, maintain and expand service through international ports of entry.
  1. Enhance San Diego’s global identity and reputation for innovation. Deepen public-private partnerships on focused international activity.

“The digital paradigm shift we’ve seen is just one of the many ways the global marketplace—and in turn, our business—has been revolutionized by the pandemic. This is why a regional strategic plan like the one WTCSD has outlined matters: there are real businesses, real people, real jobs who require the resilience that global connection provides,” said Ken Behan, VP of Sales and Marketing, SYSTRAN.

“The Port of San Diego is a vital economic engine for the region with San Diego Bay and the surrounding waterfront at the heart of it all. While it has been a difficult and uncertain year for us and many of our bayfront businesses, there are so many legacy-making decisions ahead. This strategy presents an opportunity for us to align not only in word, but in action. The impacts could be transformational,” said Commissioner Jennifer LeSar, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners.

The report was produced by WTCSD, with support by the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy at UC San Diego and sponsored by Illumina. It was unveiled today at a community event alongside Congressman Scott Peters; San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria; Dr. Renee Bowen, Director, Center for Commerce and Diplomacy, UC San Diego; Garry Ridge, Chairman of the Board & CEO, WD-40; Kathleen Lynch, Vice President, Global Government Affairs & Public Policy, Illumina; Maritza Diaz, CEO, iTjuana; and Dr. Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, General Atomics Global.

ABOUT WTCSD
Founded in 1994 by the City of San Diego, Port of San Diego, and San Diego International Airport, World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) operates as an affiliate of San Diego Regional EDC. WTCSD works to further San Diego’s global competitiveness by building an export pipeline, attracting and retaining foreign investment and increasing San Diego’s global profile abroad. sandiegobusiness.org/wtcsd

Read the full strategy and report here

Study release: North County’s manufacturing industry poised for recovery, growth

A marketing initiative of EDC and the five cities along the 78 Corridor, Innovate78 serves to spotlight the businesses and innovators that make our region competitive.

Today, Innovate78 released a new report, The Future of Manufacturing in North County, which finds the industry will continue to prove its resiliency and positive economic impact in the region—even amid trends in automation, globalization and COVID-19 ramifications. According to the study, manufacturing accounts for $18 billion annually (or seven percent) of the area’s economy, and while many of the 813 local manufacturing firms were impacted by coronavirus, 58 percent of survey respondents are looking to increase their space.  

The study analyzes trends in employment, which is concentrated in high-value goods like computer and electronic product manufacturing. This sub-industry specifically accounts for nearly one-third of all manufacturing jobs in North County, with 12,746 employees of the total 40,151 jobs reported in the study. This number is expected to grow nearly six percent in the next five years—continuing to position manufacturing as a key driver of North County’s economy.  

Flux Power, a company represented in the study that manufactures advanced lithium-ion battery for industrial and commercial equipment, increased both their staff and revenue in 2020 amid the pandemic. With more than 100 employees, the Vista-based company is now looking to increase both its production and nonproduction space within the region.  

“The need to be efficient, safe and environmentally-conscious is high, especially now, as businesses plan for post-COVID-19 recovery,” said Chuck Scheiwe, chief financial officer of Flux Power. “Manufacturing products that empower others to improve their day-to-day efficiencies will be critical in our industry and region’s future growth, and we’re proud to be part of it.”  

The study reports that during COVID-19, North County manufacturing companies were undoubtedly impacted by the pandemic, with 43 percent of respondents reporting a loss of revenue in 2020. Looking at net growth, however, there was a reported one percent increase in manufacturing jobs, with 186 manufacturing jobs lost and 956 gained as noted by respondents. Most job losses were in medical manufacturing, while most job gains were in machinery manufacturing.  

One company that reported job gains is Quik-Pak, an Escondido based computer and electronic manufacturing company. In addition to anticipating upscaling facilities in the future, during COVID-19 Quik-Pak hired staff and reported increased revenue.  

“The strength of the manufacturing industry in North County San Diego is one of the reasons we wanted to expand here,” said Rosie Medina, vice president sales and marketing of Quik-Pak. “The talent pool is rich, and there is space to grow. We appreciate that not every region has both of these critical components that are needed for our industry to thrive.”    

Automation, globalization and COVID-19 are obvious pressures affecting North County’s manufacturing industry. However, as Quik-Pak and Flux Power note, the need for innovation and talent remain strong. There are 9,804 manufacturing jobs with a higher-than-average risk of automation—that’s nearly 24 percent of all North County manufacturing jobs. Investment in upskilling and re-training will be needed to help move these workers into other quality jobs over time.  

From craft beer to surfboards, to life-changing medical devices and technology services, manufacturing has long been a pillar of the region’s economy, with impacts spanning beyond our community,” said Jordan Latchford, research manager of San Diego Regional EDC, the study author and managing entity of Innovate78. “This study confirms the manufacturing industry in North County is poised for a strong recovery, and will remain a significant economic driver for the San Diego region.”  

read the full report

LEARN MORE ABOUT SAN DIEGO’S MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY

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