So far, 2018 has been a year of transition for EDC. Research performed through a partnership with the Brookings Institution led us to some startling findings about how inequality and affordability pose a threat to the San Diego region’s economic competitiveness. These findings helped to build a case for if and how an economic development organization (EDO) can play a role in region-wide efforts to promote an inclusive economy. Organizations across San Diego have been working for decades with much avail to elevate underrepresented populations, bolster small businesses, and improve quality of life for more local residents. But where does an economic development organization fit in?
For more than 50 years, EDC has been the voice of the business community – lauding the accomplishments of our life sciences, tech, and defense industries. The success of San Diego’s innovation economy has positioned the region for sustainable growth, but in an economy nearing full employment, even the most cutting-edge businesses struggle to find and retain the workers they need to remain competitive.
A strong economy is an inclusive economy, in which residents, businesses, and communities all have the opportunity to contribute and reap the benefits of growth. Over the last quarter, a regional steering committee, supported by technical advisory groups, has embarked on an ambitious effort to develop and drive an agenda that points the region toward a more inclusive economy, and thus, a stronger economy. This agenda will articulate the economic imperative for taking action, identify broad regional goals, and provide concrete recommendations around three pillars of influence: building a strong local talent pipeline, increasing small business competitiveness, and increasing affordability. This process is one that will not be accomplished overnight, but here’s an update on EDC’s progress, followed by some engagement opportunities for those ready to take action now.
- Inclusive growth steering committee: made up of more than 40 leaders representing academia, nonprofit, and private sector. The steering committee convened for its second gathering to set a regional target for the first pillar of the inclusive growth strategy: building a strong, local talent pipeline. This regional target aims to increase the number of post-secondary degree holders by 2030. Details to come.
- Advisory group on a creating a strong local talent pipeline: To arrive at this target for building a strong local talent pipeline, the steering committee was informed by an advisory group of 15 subject-matter experts, who met for three working sessions in Q2. These sessions were filled with data-driven discussions on skills, workforce requirements, demographic shifts, and more to help the steering committee arrive at a regional target.
- Advisory group on small business competitiveness: To begin strategizing for the second pillar of this effort, the advisory group on increasing small business competitiveness met in Q2, as well. To inform this process, EDC, in partnership with the Small Business Development Center, has deployed a mass small business needs assessment survey to better understand challenges facing small business owners. The small business advisory group will analyze survey results to inform a regional target for increasing small business competitiveness. Take the survey here.
Building an employer-led coalition on inclusive growth will take time and collaboration across multiple industries, nonprofits, academia, and philanthropy. EDC is working hard with our partners and stakeholders to ensure we remain thoughtful and strategic in addressing these regional challenges. That said – we understand you may be tired of talking and ready to take action. Below are just a few opportunities to engage.
- Provide a San Diego small business the opportunity to increase its competitiveness through a free coaching program by nominating a small business for the Inner City Capital Connections Program, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.
- Help us better understand the challenges facing our small businesses by taking the small business needs assessment survey.
- Showcase career paths for San Diego’s students by hosting a virtual tour as a part of Cajon Valley School District’s World of Work program or contact Ed Hidalgo, Chief Innovation and Engagement Officer at Cajon Valley Union School District – firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re just getting started; much more to come. Learn more.
By Kate Gallagher, economic development coordinator