Meet the MetroConnect VII companies!

Add these to your ‘companies to watch’ list

Together with Mayor Todd Gloria and underwriters Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte and JPMorgan Chase & Co., World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) unveiled the seventh cohort of companies selected to participate in MetroConnect, the region’s comprehensive export assistance program helping local companies accelerate their international growth.

Since the program’s debut in 2015, 95 MetroConnect alumni have collectively added 302 new jobs to the region, signed more than 522 new contracts, and set up 22 new overseas facilities. On average, cohort companies grow their exports by an average 63 percent and revenues by 40 percent as part of the program. Alumni include Novo Brazil Brewing Co., Access Trax, White Labs, Dr. Bronner’s, Bitchin’ Sauce, Scientist.com, Aira (acquired by Blue Diego Investment Group), Cypher Genomics (acquired by Human Longevity Inc.), and many more.

Now, WTCSD is pleased to welcome the newest set of MetroConnect companies representing the diversity of San Diego’s innovation economy.

Meet the MetroConnect VII companies

  1. Aquacycl
  2. Epitope Diagnostics
  3. Fieldsheer
  4. GALT Aerospace
  5. Harland Brewing Company
  6. Health Innovation Products
  7. Lotus Sustainables
  8. Promo Drone
  9. Selk’bag
  10. Sunday Golf
  11. Surf Loch
  12. VECKTA
  13. VeV Scientific
  14. Visaic
  15. Wearable Sensing

Learn about the companies

The MetroConnect program is highly competitive, with just 15 companies selected based on a variety of criteria, including interest in new foreign markets, assessed impact of funds, current international traction and more. Applicants were assessed by a panel of senior level representatives from Biocom, Connect, CMTC, WTCSD and the U.S. Commercial Service.

“Since its launch, the City of San Diego has been a proud supporter of MetroConnect and the nearly 100 businesses it has helped grow internationally,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “As Mayor, I’m committed to supporting the small businesses that power San Diego’s economy, and international connectivity is an important tool in building economic resilience.”

Why go global?

Amid economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to help local SMEs build resilience by facilitating increased sales in global markets.

In 2022 alone, San Diego exported more than $32 billion in goods overseas, as well as billions more in services like software, cybersecurity, engineering and research. SMEs produce 92 percent of those goods—driving home the importance of programs like MetroConnect.

“Booz Allen is proud to support international business connectivity in San Diego through MetroConnect,” said Jennie Brooks, EVP at MetroConnect underwriter Booz Allen Hamilton, and EDC board chair. “The metrics don’t lie—it’s clear global companies are more competitive, efficient and successful. We’re committed to continuing this important work in San Diego’s business community.”

Next up for MetroConnect VII

The cohort will gain access to a suite of resources to support expansion into international markets, including executive workshops, flight discounts, language translation, and up to $30,000 in grant funding.

“2024 is filled with great opportunity for those who are prepared to navigate an uncertain and dynamic environment,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of WTCSD. “Now with new tracks focused on technology, health and consumer goods, the MetroConnect program will ensure San Diego’s rapidly growing firms are equipped to access global markets, share our region’s life-changing innovation with the world, and create high quality jobs here at home.”

Interested in growing your business internationally?

World Trade Center San Diego works directly with companies – free of charge – to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego. Whether your small company is interested in learning about exporting and international growth, or your SME is ready to export and grow internationally, WTCSD is here to help.

Ready to get involved? Click here to receive our monthly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

EDC report: 2023 Inclusive Growth Progress

Report: San Diego affordability crisis threatens latest jobs and talent gains

Today, San Diego Regional EDC released its 2023 Inclusive Growth Progress Report. With updated data and bold objectives set around increasing the number of quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households critical to the region’s competitiveness, the report measures San Diego’s growth and recovery, and spotlights the greatest threats to prosperity.

2023.inclusivesd.org

Making the business case for inclusion, EDC releases this annual report to track progress toward the region’s 2030 goals: 50,000 new quality jobs* in small businesses; 20,000 skilled workers per year; and 75,000 newly thriving households**. Since its launch in 2017, the initiative has rallied public commitments from County, City, academic, and private sector leaders who are leveraging the Inclusive Growth framework to inform their priorities, tactics, and resource allocation. While much about the economy remains uncertain, intentional and consistent efforts by a diverse set of regional stakeholders will be key to achieving these goals.

“Large and small businesses, nonprofits, and government all play important roles in building a strong local economy and expanding economic inclusion,” said Jennie Brooks, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton and EDC Board Chair. “Booz Allen is empowering its employees with training in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and is committed to helping prepare local, diverse San Diegans for tech careers of the future. We are proud to partner with local nonprofits and small businesses to make advanced technology broadly accessible to students and create a supportive ecosystem in San Diego to drive inclusive economic growth.”

THE STORY BEHIND THE DATA

Over the past decade, the San Diego region has experienced a notable upswing in general prosperity, standard of living, average wages, and productivity, including a full recovery from the pandemic across virtually every sector. Yet, these gains have not been evenly distributed.

In terms of racial, geographic, and overall inclusion, San Diego has slipped; the pandemic has hit lower-income households and minority communities hardest. The relative poverty rate has increased while median earnings and the household wage gap between white and non-white populations has widened. Record-level inflation has hit struggling San Diego households hard, and high operating costs have degraded the ability of businesses to attract and retain talent.

Despite these obstacles, San Diego is once again making headway on the quality jobs and skilled worker goals; see charts below. 2021 saw an uptick in small business jobs as well as the highest increase in post-secondary education (PSE) completions in more than a decade.

However, decreasing affordability coupled with uneven economic prosperity not only threatens that progress but indeed may mean that San Diego falls even further behind its peer metros on overall prosperity. The region now needs to add 125,000 newly thriving households by the end of the decade to meet the goal.

The region’s expensive and limited housing market has exacerbated inflation across all categories, with fewer than 44 percent of San Diego households considered thriving. The affordability crisis will primarily impact Black and Latino households, of which more than half are low-income, and continue to challenge employers’ ability to attract and retain talent—posing the single greatest threat to the region’s economic growth.

“While EDC’s report demonstrates San Diego’s remarkable resilience in the face of the pandemic, our jobs and talent gains are being diminished by the region’s affordability crisis. Unless we get this right, San Diego will always be catching up,” said Lisette Islas, Executive VP and Chief Impact Officer at MAAC, and EDC Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth.

Join the movement

Using a demand-driven, employer-led, and outcomes-based approach, San Diego private, public, and community leaders must deploy creative solutions to achieve these 2030 goals. EDC invites the community to join us at one of two upcoming webinars to learn more about the data and how to get involved:

“We’re seeing HR departments dissolve degree requirements, big buyers redirecting procurement spend, governments streamlining permitting processes, and developers prioritizing on-site childcare. This is the level of regional adoption required to move the needle on inclusion, and EDC is committed to continuing to tell a data-driven story to make the business imperative clear. San Diego’s future depends on it,” said Teddy Martinez, Senior Manager, Research, San Diego Regional EDC.

Read the full report at 2023.inclusivesd.org, and all previous updates at progress.inclusiveSD.org

The initiative is sponsored by Bank of America, City of San Diego, County of San Diego, JPMorgan Chase & Co., San Diego Gas & Electric, Seaport San Diego, Southwest Airlines, and University of San Diego Knauss School of Business.

more at inclusiveSD.org

*Quality job = $45K wages + healthcare benefits.

**Thriving household = total income covers cost of living for renter- or owner-occupied households, at $79K and $122K respectively.

A tool for inclusive growth: The San Diego Investment Map

New digital tool to help inform inclusive growth in housing, childcare, industry

Today, EDC launched the San Diego Investment Map, a new digital tool to inform strategic, inclusive growth across the region. As part of EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative, the Investment Map provides a first-of-its-kind interactive data tool to support decision making across core facets of the local economy: childcare, middle-income housing, and corporate site selection.

Pulling a variety of datasets into an easy-to-use dashboard, the San Diego Investment Map allows users to explore San Diego County through a different lens. The interactive dashboards include data and analyses, and serve to shine a light on the region’s greatest threats to economic competitiveness: a jobs and housing imbalance, among other affordability challenges.

Key takeaways:

  • CHILDCARE: San Diego has 327 childcare ‘deserts’ spread throughout the region, making up nearly half of all census tracts. The Investment Map can pinpoint gaps in childcare supply and help narrow sites for prioritization.
  • HOUSING: Seventy-four percent of San Diego’s population is middle- to low-income, yet only 2.5 percent of permitted housing development needed in the region accommodates these groups. The Investment Map can identify zones with existing building incentives, community plan updates, as well as new commercial development where workforce housing may be needed.
  • INDUSTRY: There are 15.6 million rentable square feet of commercial space being developed across the region, predominately concentrated in northern San Diego. While this includes enough office space for more than 42,000 employees, most workers live instead in the southern and eastern parts of the region. The Investment Map can assist companies in site selection based on occupation hubs, commute trends, and other infrastructure assets that meet their operational needs.

“The San Diego Investment Map serves as a tool for local policy makers, developers, and employers to make informed and deliberate decisions to prioritize the region’s inclusive growth. Using geographic storytelling, the map makes obvious the gaps in our economy—limited childcare; disjointed development both in terms of location and income-level; rising costs with no end in sight. Data-driven solutions to alleviate these challenges will safeguard San Diego’s competitiveness,” said Teddy Martinez, Sr. Research Manager, San Diego Regional EDC.

Explore the Map

About the Inclusive Growth Initiative

The innovation economy will continue to make San Diego more prosperous than many of its peers, but it is not accessible to the fastest-growing segment of the region’s population. This mismatch between our regional assets and our economy’s future needs will consistently erode the region’s competitiveness.

Launched in 2018, EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative serves to communicate these challenges, making the business case for economic inclusion across San Diego. By 2030, County, City, private sector and academic leaders have pledged their commitments to the initiative’s goals: 50,000 new quality jobs in small businesses, 20,000 new skilled workers annually, and 75,000 newly thriving households. See how we’re tracking here.

The San Diego Investment Map marks a new tool for employers and stakeholders to engage in this work, specifically tackling the thriving households goal.

“Inclusion is an economic and business imperative. It’s more than DE&I in the workplace—it’s about ensuring all San Diegans have the resources and infrastructure needed to thrive in this region. The Investment Map highlights all the work we still have to do to make that possible,” said Lisette Islas, EDC vice chair of Inclusive Growth, and EVP and Chief Impact Officer of MAAC.

The San Diego Investment Map was authored by San Diego Regional EDC, with support and counsel provided by Buzz Woolley and Mary Walshok.

Learn more about inclusive growth

Explore the Map

Interested in a demo, or getting involved? Contact EDC:

Teddy Martinez
Teddy Martinez

Sr. Manager, Research

 

Access Trax wins $25K MetroConnect VI export grand prize

World Trade Center San Diego and 200+ voting audience award $25K for international expansion

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) named Access Trax, which provides ADA compliant portable access mats for outdoor accessibility, as the winner of the MetroConnect export accelerator program, now in its sixth year. Made possible through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Procopio, Access Trax will use the $25,000 award to expand its presence in markets such as Canada and Australia.

With more than 75 million people around the world using a wheelchair on a daily basis, Access Trax’ portable, foldable mats create pathways to access outdoor terrain like sand, grass, gravel, and snow that is otherwise impossible to navigate.

“Access Trax is the perfect reflection of San Diego’s life-changing innovation, leveraging our region’s excellence in manufacturing and lifestyle to help drive accessibility around the globe,” said Lucas Coleman, WTCSD Director. “The company’s results from MetroConnect’s sixth cohort are impressive. Whether it’s fine-tuning the go-to-market strategy in target markets such as Canada or alleviating critical language translation challenges, working to connect small and medium-sized businesses to international markets builds greater resilience here at home.”

The female-founded small business Access Trax beat out three other finalists in MetroConnect VI, Novo Brazil Brewing, Nano PharmaSolutions, and Solecta. The grand prize-winning company was decided via real-time audience vote during the Grand Prize PitchFest event May 11 at UC San Diego Park & Market. Prior to this, a committee of senior international business leaders in San Diego helped the WTCSD team nominate these top performers, out of the initial 15-company cohort.

“The MetroConnect program was instrumental in helping us lay the foundation for our strategic international growth. Access Trax is thrilled to earn the top vote of the audience and judges and we look forward to using the $25K towards local job creation and continued export growth for an even bigger impact,” said Kelly Twichel, CEO of Access Trax, the MetroConnect VI Grand Prize winner.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

In its first six years, MetroConnect has helped 95 local, small and mid-sized businesses generate a net increase of $97 million in international sales, 522 international contracts, and 32 overseas facilities. This international growth has coincided with 319 new hires here in the San Diego region.

Each cohort year, WTCSD selects 15 export-ready small businesses to receive $5,000 export grants, access to executive workshops, translation software, and a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize to aid in further international market expansion. Applications for year seven of the MetroConnect program are now open through July 14, 2023. 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.

GLOBAL CONNECTION TO BOOST RESILIENCE

Since 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.

“For nearly a decade now, JPMorgan Chase and MetroConnect have teamed up to help San Diego businesses push the boundaries of innovation and growth,” said Aaron Ryan, Managing Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase. “San Diego is one of the most resilient economies in the U.S., and we keep seeing how businesses here are primed to realize their full potential across the globe.”

WTCSD hosted its MetroConnect Grand Prize PitchFest on May 11, with remarks by Nikia Clarke, Executive Director, WTCSD; Kevin Cox, President, Electra Bicycle Company; Danny Fitzgerald, Regional Director, San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network; and program underwriter Aaron Ryan, Managing Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking, JPMorgan Chase.

WTCSD has year-round, non-exclusive international opportunities that help companies break expand internationally, such as the Export SBDC and strategy for global engagement.

Learn more about WTCSD

San Diego small businesses pitch for Dutch investment as part of mayoral trade mission

Trabus Technologies and Nano PharmaSolutions join delegation to Netherlands to drive local growth

This week, as part of Mayor Todd Gloria’s trade mission to the Netherlands, coordinated by World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), an affiliate of EDC, San Diego small businesses pitched their technology solutions to potential international partners and investors. Trabus Technologies (TRABUS) and Nano PharmaSolutions, both San Diego-based, minority-owned small businesses, joined this three-day trip to establish business relationships, pursue investment, and grow local jobs.

San Diego is the birthplace of many successful large, multinational companies, including Qualcomm who is represented in the delegation as well. However, small businesses—those with fewer than 100 employees—are the backbone of the regional economy and drive regional economic growth and innovation. Small businesses employ more than 60 percent of San Diego County’s workforce, nearly double the national average, and represent nearly 98 percent of the region’s firms. Yet small companies face outsize barriers to international expansion.

“Having an economy driven by small, innovative companies has been great for San Diego, and we want to support their expansion into overseas markets so they can stay strong and competitive in their industries,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “This trade mission gives us the chance to lay that groundwork for small businesses that face headwinds overseas.”

In order to drive economic resilience, Mayor Todd Gloria and WTCSD have prioritized small businesses as part of the Netherlands trade mission. TRABUS and Nano PharmaSolutions—both innovative, minority-owned small businesses involved in WTCSD’s export accelerator program MetroConnect—pitched to the Port of Rotterdam and investors at the Leiden Bio Science Park respectively:

  • TRABUS and Port of Rotterdam: TRABUS is a service-disabled, veteran- and minority-owned small business providing innovative solutions to the U.S. government and private sector. The 50-person TRABUS team specializes in the development of technology across five major portfolios—wireless technologies, artificial intelligence and data science, maritime transportation, environmental informatics and cybersecurity. To be spotlighted in its pitch to the European port, TRABUS has developed the first AI-based voyage planning software, RippleGo, for the inland waterways. While the SaaS product is currently being tested on U.S. waterways, RippleGo could have tremendous potential to enhance voyage planning and supply chain logistics on EU based waterways for greater economic efficiencies.

 “We are excited about the potential partnerships and opportunities to work with the European maritime industry. The EU has an impressive, interconnected waterway network already. We hope to learn more about their network and offer up some of our technologies that can aid in waterway management and intermodal supply chain logistics,” said Art Salindong, Managing Director, TRABUS.

  • Nano PharmaSolutions (NPS) and Leiden Bio Science Park: A platform technology startup for nanodrug delivery of small molecule drugs, NPS offers improved solubility and convenient dosage form development. Founded in 2019, the company is seeking Seed and early-stage VC investment, with plans to expand into the European market and access increased pharmaceutical customers in the years ahead. NPS plans to co-manufacture clinical trial materials for their customers at Mikart Pharmaceutical, a contract manufacturing organization in Atlanta, GA, beginning Q3 2023. Mikart is a commercial scale oral dosage form company, which can support NanoTransformer™ nano-granulation and downstream dosage form manufacturing and QC activities.

“Not only does our NanoTransformer™ technology expedite drug development at a lower R&D cost, but it helps drugs absorb into the body more quickly and efficiently” said Dr. Kay Olmstead, Founder & CEO, NPS. “This is an incredible opportunity to share our story and build partnerships at the famous Leiden Bio Science Park, and we’re excited about what’s to come.”

With the right partners, small companies that solve important problems—like TRABUS and Nano PharmaSolutions—become big companies that change the world. That has always been San Diego’s story, and it is why we work so hard to open doors for innovators and entrepreneurs both overseas and back at home,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of WTCSD and SVP, EDC.

This session is one of a dozen meetings and programs on the three-day trade mission to the Netherlands, September 26—29, 2022. See a summary of the trip here and follow along for more: #SDinNL

Learn more on SD and NL

The trade mission is organized by WTCSD, an affiliate of the San Diego Regional EDC, with assistance and support provided by the Consulate of the Netherlands, and sponsorship by ASML, Lufthansa, and Qualcomm Technologies.

 

Mayor, WTCSD delegation cut ribbon on Qualcomm Amsterdam operation

Today as part of Mayor Todd Gloria’s trade mission to the Netherlands, coordinated by World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), an affiliate of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Qualcomm Technologies Netherlands B.V., cut the ribbon on Matrix One in Amsterdam. In the Amsterdam Science Park, Matrix One will serve as Qualcomm Technologies Inc.’s largest AI hub outside of the U.S.

The cornerstone of San Diego’s technology ecosystem, Qualcomm is a global leader in 5G wireless technologies. Per a 2018 report, the company supported more than 28,000 San Diego jobs and had a $4 billion local economic impact. For every job at Qualcomm, an additional 1.8 jobs were supported elsewhere in San Diego economy.

“Nearly 40 years ago, a small tech company made a commitment to this region that would shape our innovation ecosystem—and our world—as we know it,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “I’m proud to support Qualcomm’s continued growth in San Diego and around the world.”

Amsterdam Science Park is home to one of Europe’s biggest concentrations of scientific talent. The unique combination of high-quality education, pioneering research and knowledge-intensive business boosts the kind of innovation that will transform our society in the future.

“With our move into the new Matrix One building in Amsterdam Science Park, I am very happy to see us well positioned for further growth. Our highly innovative AI research in diverse topic areas and continued collaboration and co-location with the University of Amsterdam confirm us as the prime employer for AI & ML researchers and engineers in the region,” said Michael Hofmann, Director, Engineering, Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

The trade mission is organized by WTCSD, an affiliate of the San Diego Regional EDC, with assistance and support provided by the Consulate of the Netherlands, and sponsorship by ASML, Lufthansa and Qualcomm Technologies. This session is one of a dozen meetings and programs on the three-day trade mission to the Netherlands, September 26—29, 2022.

see a summary of the trip here

More on SD and NL

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.”

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