Originally published on April 5 in the San Diego Business Journal, this is the latest of EDC President and CEO Mark Cafferty’s weekly columns:
Once again, I hope this message finds all of you healthy and safe. With each passing day, our team at San Diego Regional EDC is adjusting and repurposing our work to address the new normals (short-term and long-term) that our businesses are trying to deal with. While we are all facing significant challenges, it has been both amazing and inspiring to see how local companies have mobilized, adapted and pivoted to play critical roles in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and response.
As some of you know, I have been asked to write a weekly column to provide resources and information to the business community as things continue to move and change around us. As an important supporter and investor in our work, I wanted to make sure you had a preview of this information. You will begin to get updates from me every Thursday and see a similar version of these updates in the San Diego Business Journal the following Monday.
Stepping Up and Doubling-Down
In the City of San Diego, Mayor Faulconer has urged companies to pivot and expand their operations to support the COVID-19 response efforts. Other city leaders, from Chula Vista to San Marcos, have followed suit.
From their unique local, national and global perspectives, here are just a few of the ways in which San Diego companies are stepping up and pivoting operations to respond:
• ResMed – ResMed is best known for creating medical technology to address sleep apnea and other breathing/respiratory illnesses. The company also produces and manufactures respirators and ventilators for hospital and home use. ResMed is now looking to pivot some of its production capacity away from sleep apnea devices to the much-needed ventilators, which will triple the number of ventilators that the company produces.
• Cutwater Spirits – Cutwater Spirits, which was originally started by the team at Ballast Point, has already begun retooling operations to make badly-needed hand sanitizer. Other local distilleries, including Misadventure Vodka and Seven Caves, are also retooling to help provide this essential resource for medical facilities and homes.
• Orucase – Orucase, a San Diego manufacturer of cycling travel bags and accessories, has started adapting its production lines to manufacture face masks. The company has the capacity to make 500,000 a week and plans to begin shipping immediately. Additionally, Orucase is in the process of securing materials to make medical-grade masks for healthcare workers.
• Cubic – Cubic is leveraging technology through its Cubic Mission Solutions division to create a prototype ventilator. The San Diego-based company is partnering with the University of Alabama’s Nursing program to test and refine this ventilator.
• Flexsystems – El Cajon-based manufacturer Flexsystems has also changed its operations to focus on manufacturing fabric masks and splash guards.
As I mentioned in last week’s column, we are continuing to see many local life sciences companies explore and uncover potential solutions, vaccines and cures. In addition to Thermo Fisher Scientific and others, this past week has brought announcements of other local companies that are stepping up in a big way–many of them are startups and small businesses themselves. San Diego-based startup Cue Health has won a $13 million federal contract to speed up the development of testing. LunaDNA, a local startup that allows individuals to share and control their health and genomic data, is already thinking long term. The company is collecting real-world information by asking individuals to anonymously report how they are either living with or living in the times of COVID-19. This information will help scientists and researchers better understand long-term health impacts, and potentially, even lead to a cure.
A San Diego Marketplace
While many companies are stepping up to help, there are several healthcare organizations on the front lines of this effort that still desperately need resources and supplies. To that end, EDC is supporting the efforts of our partners at Biocom (San Diego and California’s largest biotech and life sciences industry association) to create an online marketplace for critical items. If your company is producing something in the COVID-19 supply chain and is looking for a buyer, or if you are looking to pivot operations and needs crucial materials to do so, this new online marketplace can be accessed at www.biocom.org/coronavirus/partnering-opportunities/
How Business Are Really Doing
Along with our partners at San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce & San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center, we have deployed a survey to assess immediate economic impacts and understand the evolving business sentiment. We plan to keep this open for the foreseeable future and chart how responses change over time.
The first two weeks of data we analyzed is from 642 employers, representing 87,824 jobs. More than 86 percent of businesses that have responded expect to see revenue losses, and not surprisingly, our small businesses are expecting higher losses than the larger business respondents.
We have seen that many businesses have already had to lay off workers and most survey respondents sighted access to financing/capital as one of their most pressing business concerns.
In the weeks ahead, EDC and our partners will continue to share a weekly analysis of what we are learning and seeing through the business survey and designing new strategies and programs to address the changing and evolving business needs.
For up-to-date analysis and interactive dashboard of the data, please visit www.sandiegobusiness.org/research/covid-19-survey-results/
If you have not yet taken the survey, you can find it here: www.sandiegobusiness.org/blog/we-need-your-help-understanding-the-impact-of-covid-19-in-san-diego/
We will also continuously update our resource guide online (www.sandiegobusiness.org/coronavirus/) to provide the most timely information on where businesses can access reliable resources and support at this time.
The weeks and months ahead are going to continue to be challenging, uncharted, and in many cases, heartbreaking. Be patient with and supportive of your business partners, colleagues, contractors and associates. We are all in this together and we are all trying to figure things out together. Our team will continue to share with you everything that we believe can be valuable and helpful during these times and we will work hard to pass along everything new that we are analyzing and learning along the way.
Communication, connectedness, collaboration and generosity are hallmarks of our business community. They aren’t just pleasant words and aspirations. They are the core values that make us resilient and strong. None of that changes during times of social distancing and crisis.
Stay healthy, stay safe, (stay home), and stay strong.