A note from Dr. Clarke

Like we do every year, our team spent the last few months of 2021 working with EDC’s executive committee, board, and investors to establish annual goals that are informed by current economic realities, led by employers, and have measurable outcomes that contribute to prosperity and competitiveness across the binational region. As San Diego emerges from a global pandemic to an economy full of contradictions—strong job growth, eye-watering VC numbers, and massive capital investment as well as widespread labor shortages, small business closures, and housing prices almost 30 percent higher than 2019—it is abundantly clear that smart economic development is inclusive economic development.

In 2021, EDC reframed our organizational goals around these fundamental building blocks of a strong economy—quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households—and committed to working with and through our investors to accelerate progress towards these Inclusive Growth goals. In 2022, resilience means connecting more people to innovation industries; competitiveness means more San Diegans have the skills the economy needs; and prosperity means that working families can afford to live here. Please find EDC’s 2022 goals outlined below.

JOBS

Goal: The region needs to create 50K quality small business jobs by 2030.

EDC will contribute to this goal in 2022 through:

  • Industry Insight: Track regional business sentiment and economic resilience via regular research publications, and complete AI industry series.
  • Business Services: Execute 250+ business expansion, attraction, and retention projects and support major mixed-use projects, leading to 5,000 quality jobs. Leverage the Life Sciences Task Force to establish a “one-stop-shop” framework for expansion support for Life Sciences industry and major development projects.
  • World Trade Center San Diego: Execute MetroConnect VI export accelerator program and expand the export Small Business Development Center to support 35+ export-ready companies, leading to $5M+ in new international sales. Enhance binational project support in priority industries.

TALENT

Goal: The region must create 20K degreed and credentialed workers per year by 2030.

EDC will contribute to this goal in 2022 through:

  • San Diego: Life. Changing.: Communicate opportunities for diverse, skilled talent in San Diego—especially to strategic competitive markets by enhancing Life Sciences recruiting tools.
  • Advancing San Diego: Maintain employer working groups and network of 40+ Preferred Providers for high-demand occupations, update and release regular talent demand reports, and place 80+ Healthcare and Life Sciences interns.

HOUSEHOLDS

Goal: The region must create 75K newly thriving households by 2030.

EDC will contribute to this goal in 2022 through:

  • Anchor Collaborative: Set shared regional procurement goals for region’s largest purchasers, identify $100 million in new small business spend, and create supplier navigation map.
  • Global Identity: Advance San Diego’s global agenda, support investments in critical infrastructure, and lead Mayoral Thriving Cities trade mission to international market.
  • Inclusive Growth: Create regional alignment on Inclusive Growth goals, launch downtown research and policy collaboration at UCSD’s Park & Market, and execute demonstration project on infrastructure needs.

EDC programs have real, measurable outcomes—supporting thousands of quality jobs, placing hundreds of interns and job seekers, and creating opportunities for millions of dollars of new contracts for small businesses. But ultimately, even the most driven and passionate team won’t substantially move the needle on these ambitious regional goals; we do not ourselves create jobs, train workers, draft policy, or build roads, high-rises, or housing. You do.

EDC can draft the roadmap, but you all—our region’s largest employers—are the only ones who will get us there, through working collaboratively and creatively to accelerate progress towards our regional 2030 goals. That is what “with and through” our investors means, and we at EDC can’t wait to get started.

– Nikia

READ EDC’S MONTHLY REPORT

READ EDC’S 2021 ANNUAL REPORT

SEE SAN DIEGO’S GOOD NEWS OF THE YEAR

A note of reflection from Mark

“May you live in interesting times.” 

I was always told growing up that this phrase was a “Chinese curse.” Turns out that isn’t true. There is actually no real evidence to indicate that any ancient Chinese curses could have even be mistaken for this phrase. But there are a few blessings—in a few different cultures—that may likely be the origins of the statement.

The last year has certainly been interesting. Depending on who we are and where we sit, it may have seemed like a curse, a blessing, or anything in between. But without a doubt, it will all be behind us in a few weeks as we usher in the new year—full of new opportunities and new possibilities.

At some point in the years ahead, we will all look back on 2021 (and 2020 that in many ways is bundled in) and relive its ups and downs—its starts and stops. We’ll remember where we were and who we shared this year with. Beyond my closest friends and family, I will remember sharing this year with all of you, on screen or otherwise. And as we look back, the joys, successes, hardships, losses, opportunities, and challenges will likely have new perspective and clarity that only time can provide. But unmistakably—in the moment—I want to express my sincere gratitude for all of it, and for all of you.

Here you will find some highlights of the team’s work over these last few weeks and some information on events/opportunities still on the horizon; see also our Year in Review and Good News of the Year for a wrap-up of our biggest wins and headlines of the year. And as we continue to live and work in interesting times, take stock of who you are living through them with, and consider each relationship and each opportunity the blessing that it truly is.

Happiest of holidays seasons to everyone, and thank you (as always) for your continued leadership, dedication, and support.

Mark

Read EDC’s Monthly Report

A note from Mark…

Life Sciences innovation is at center stage of San Diego economy

As my mind continues to focus on the health of our community and our economy, I find so many of my conversations centering on the work of San Diego’s Life Sciences industry. Long an anchor of our region’s innovation economy, the Science and Biotech sectors are taking center stage in more ways than ever before—leading in vaccination and testing innovation, and in inbound financial investment and commercial real estate demand.

A key finding from our Q3 Economic Snapshot reveals that our local Life Sciences industry attracted nearly $1 billion in funding during the quarter—nearly 70 percent more than the amount received in the same quarter last year. Just last month, San Diego’s elected leaders were at the center of a deal to reduce prescription drug costs, while also supporting the funding model for scientific research and innovation that enables life-changing drugs, therapeutics, and cures to find their way to market—many from right here in San Diego.

With all of this swirling around us, it is no surprise that a great deal of EDC’s work continues to focus on the growth and support of the skilled workers and quality jobs that power San Diego’s Life Sciences industry, including the work summarized below:

  • Advancing San Diego‘s recently released Talent Demand Report outlines key talent needs in the Life Sciences industry, as determined by employers. The program is currently accepting applications for Preferred Providers of Life Sciences talent here.
  • EDC’s Life Sciences Task Force is working to build a strategic economic development framework for industry support in order to enhance the ability of Life Sciences companies to discover, grow, and thrive in the San Diego region. To complement this work by EDC’s economic development team and further support talent attraction and retention in the industry, San Diego: Life. Changing. will be pivoting its focus to primarily feature scientific innovation and opportunities for talent.
  • Current MetroConnect V finalist White Labs, along with three other diverse companies, will compete for an additional $25,000 in funding towards their international expansion strategies during MetroConnect’s virtual Grand Prize PitchFest on November 15, 2021. Register here to cast your vote—and apply HERE to be part of MetroConnect VI and take your company global with us.

With gratitude and optimism,

Mark Cafferty

Read edc’s monthly report

A note from Mark…

A step toward recovery…

On October 13, British Airways (BA) will resume its nonstop service between San Diego and London Heathrow. The flight that took our region’s global economic connectivity to a whole new level is finally back.

Ten years ago, the BA flight set off a new focus within our region on the role that direct, nonstop service to international markets could play in growing our economy through foreign direct investment and global trade. It was the catalyst for our Japan Airlines flight to Tokyo, our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, and continued strategies to expand our global reach and connectivity.

The flight also played a key role in the rebuilding of our region’s World Trade Center (WTC). We learned quickly that trade-related jobs were the kind of quality jobs we were hoping to create for more San Diegans, and that engagement with international markets could have a significant and positive impact on our region’s diverse small business community.

Now operated through EDC, the WTC partnership between the City of San Diego, the San Diego Airport, and the Port of San Diego was at its strongest just when the global pandemic shut down international travel (and life as we knew it). But while tourism and mobility from continent to continent slowed to a halt, the need for San Diego-based business to develop partnerships in foreign markets, tap into an international customer base, and draw financing from international investors did not. And while the work of WTC changed and pivoted slightly, the role that the team played in keeping our business community connected to international markets and resources remained steadfast.

It used to be very common for me to bump into colleagues at events who would ask, “Where do you think San Diego’s next international flight will be to?” or “Where is the WTC team going for their next trade mission?” I honestly so look forward to the days when these conversations and plans will be the norm again. But until then, I take great pride in the work our team continues to do to with our small business community to keep them globally connected and well-positioned to take advantage of new opportunities around the world as they emerge.

And as the BA flight once again connects us to London, the UK, and Europe, we view it as one important step in getting our economy back to full strength.

With gratitude and optimism,

Mark Cafferty

LEARN MORE ABOUT WORLD TRADE CENTER SAN DIEGO

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A note from Mark…

San Diego’s healthcare workforce accounts for 13 percent of all jobs within the local economy. And these more than 186,000 jobs touch the lives of every San Diegan, every day. This has never been more evident than over the last 18 months.

Pressure mounting

When the pandemic started, I remember hearing my neighbors out in the streets cheering nightly for our healthcare workers. San Diegans jumped into motion to drop off food and other gifts for personnel putting their lives on the line to treat patients across the region’s hospitals. Yet over the last several months, finding anyone acknowledging the contributions and commitments of our healthcare workforce has been much harder to come by. The conversations in the streets outside my home and on my social media feeds have moved on to other issues and topics. Yet the stresses, challenges, frustrations, and weight that we have placed on the shoulders of our healthcare workforce have only grown.

For decades, higher education, workforce development, and healthcare systems have worked together to address workforce shortages in this industry and others. New programs have been developed and creative ideas and solutions have (just barely) helped ensure that healthcare systems keep pace with the increasing demand and changing needs. These partnerships, programs, ideas, and solutions will be needed more than ever as we work to deal with increasing staffing shortages, as well as the exhaustion, fatigue, and strains that the circumstances of the pandemic have caused.

Advancing San Diego to host healthcare round

In the weeks ahead, our team at EDC is kicking off Advancing San Diego’s healthcare cohort. Now in its fifth round, Advancing San Diego is focused on addressing skilled talent shortages and increasing diversity in high-growth, high-demand jobs. Sourced from our Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent (TBA), we will place up to 30 Medical Assistant (MA) students in 240-hour paid work experiences at local health offices, at no cost to the business. Learn more on MA demand here. Applications open late September.

On top of this, we will be reaching out to existing networks and consortiums already engaged in this work to see what additional resources we can bring to the table—and we welcome the involvement and support of any EDC investors in this critical work.

We know that nurses and advanced healthcare professionals cannot be created overnight. So, as we think of ways to ensure that the pipeline of future healthcare workers remains strong, it is increasingly important to recognize, incentivize, and reward those who have spent the last year and a half in the thick of a battle that still does not have an end in sight. We all owe them more than I can possibly put into words.

Additional information on EDC’s work is featured and linked below, and as always, we know that none of it would be possible without your leadership, investment, and support. Thank you for always putting us in the position to do work that matters for our economy and our community.

With gratitude and optimism,

Mark Cafferty

Read EDC’s Monthly Report

San Diego health systems are hiring:

A note from Mark…

Beauty in the breaking points

I was always a pretty good athlete as a kid. Good enough to hang with the older kids in my neighborhood. Good enough to make the teams that I wanted to make in high school. Good enough to play at the college level. Good enough. But looking back, I recognize just how much harder it would have been to be truly great at any of it.

These thoughts are top of mind for me every few years when the Olympic Games come back around and I find myself in awe of the world’s most elite athletes. To think of what it takes to be the best in the world at anything is pretty overwhelming. To imagine being able to reach that level within a particular/finite window of time, on the world’s largest stage, with your team and your country watching and counting on you, is almost impossible. And that is what makes it so amazing.

Every two/four years we not only see the world’s greatest athletes compete with one another, we also get to see a reflection of the world around them. And sometimes it isn’t pretty or easy to watch. We have seen athletes use their crowning moments on the podium to call attention to injustice and inequality—and we know that many of them have paid a price both personally and professionally. We have learned of athletes who are under such pressure to win and succeed that they are willing to use performance enhancing drugs to stay on top. We witness horrific injury and heartbreak. And this year, we learned that the pressure of it all can become too much for anyone—even the greatest of all time.

I am not sure that 20 years from now I will remember who won Olympic gold in 2021 in the long jump, or who started on the basketball or soccer teams—but I know I will remember Simone Biles.

So many people around us are carrying more on their shoulders than we will ever realize. The last 18 months have only added to those burdens and made life more complex for all of us.

By stepping away from the sport when she did, and by acknowledging that the pressure being put on our young Olympians in insurmountable moments, Simone Biles has no doubt modeled behavior that will help those who are approaching their own breaking points. And gold medals and floor exercises aside, it is within these actions and convictions where we find true greatness.

When I write these pieces, I normally have some way of wrapping my thoughts into the work of EDC or the state of the local economy around us. But this time I will simply end here—acknowledging and appreciating the vulnerability and humanity that I have witnessed once again in these Olympic Games, and in all of you over the last year and a half, and hoping that you have found meaningful moments of your own in a summer that has gone by far too quickly.

For all EDC news, events and updates, please continue to follow along with us on social media, blog, and more. We remain appreciative and thankful for all of you, and for the support that you continue to provide our team.

Continue to stay healthy and safe and we look forward to seeing you in person in the months ahead.

With respect and gratitude,

Mark Cafferty

A company guide to return-to-work

As many companies begin to plan for a safe return-to-work to traditional offices, it can seem like there are more questions than answers: Can companies require employees to be vaccinated? What if employees refuse to return to on-site work? The list goes on…

Below, attorneys Janice Brown and Sandy McDonough from EDC investor companies Meyers Nave and Paul Plevin address some of the most common questions about the return-to-work in person. As COVID-19 restrictions ease and health guidelines permit, here’s what you should consider:

Please note: The information provided does not constitute and is not intended to be legal advice.

Can I require my employees to be vaccinated?

Yes, but consider your options.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says an employer can:

  1. Mandate that employees be vaccinated, and
  2. Keep unvaccinated employees out of the workplace if the employer determines that the unvaccinated employee poses a “direct threat” due to a “significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.”

Still, you’ll need to consider:

  • Medical accommodations
  • Religious accommodations
  • Business necessity
  • Team morale
  • MOUs (unions)
  • Possible objections based on vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization status

What are my options if an employee refuses to return to work on-site?

First, work with your employees to understand the root of the issue. Is the refusal due to a lack of childcare? Is it because of safety concerns? Work with your employees to consider possible alternatives, like paid or unpaid leave and continued remote work arrangements.

What else should I know as our company outlines our return-to-work strategy?

Start by assessing your company’s needs, including updating key policies and plans, including a written COVID-19 prevention plan for return-to-work. Ensure you’re building trust with employees and lead with empathy by planning for accommodations, privacy, and health and safety needs—and communicate them accordingly. Once you have your plan, ensure the management team is trained to support.

Learn more about COVID-19 and return-to-work considerations:

Have additional or specific questions about the return to the office? Janice P. Brown (Meyers Nave) or Sandy L. McDonough (Paul Plevin) can help advise your employer.


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For COVID-19 recovery resources and information: Visit this page, or see how we can help your company free of charge.

 

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

Meet our Board: Lisette Islas

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are publishing a series of blogs about the women behind EDC—our fearless leaders, our board members, our executive committee, our guiding lights. To close the month, we are featuring a woman that San Diego is lucky to have. The Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer for MAAC, a community organization that provides services and advocacy to some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and one of Mayor Todd Gloria’s Women of Distinction, Lisette Islas.

Tell us who you are and what you do. Why did you choose your career?

I am the Executive Vice President & Chief Impact Officer at MAAC, a nonprofit that works in the areas of health, education, economic development, housing and advocacy. Every year, MAAC supports more than 70,000 people across San Diego County, most of whom are facing severe economic and social hardships when they walk through our door.

I came to this work through a winding path. My intention was to become a university professor; I had dreams of teaching courses and doing research in the areas of sociology and ethnic studies. I love learning. To this day, I stay up way-too-late reading books and articles, so in my early 20’s the idea of spending life as a researcher seemed very appealing. During graduate school, I realized that I was most fulfilled when I was working directly with community members to solve problems and create new opportunities. So, I changed the plan and found a career that would place me in the midst of efforts to transform communities and uplift families. In the two decades since then, I have learned that I’m good at building partnerships across sectors, bringing unlikely groups together to find new solutions to old problems, and driving organizational and community change.

At my core, I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend who feels a sense of commitment to the community that raised me and who is trying to do my part to leave the world a little better for the people that come after me.

Other things to know about me: I grew up in Imperial Beach, am a proud Cal grad, look forward to dance parties in the living room with my little girl, and have a pretty loud (and frequent) laugh. I think in English but often dream in Spanish, so I’d say that makes me truly bilingual. Most importantly: I love to cheer for people doing good in the world.

What does your involvement in EDC mean to you?

I joined EDC just as the Inclusive Growth Initiative was taking shape. Serving on the EDC’s Executive Committee quickly became one of the top honors and joys of my workdays. The committee members all come from different industries and our world views and personal histories run the full spectrum of possibilities. That diversity of thought and experience is exactly what makes us successful as we look for new strategies to develop the economic strength of our region. We listen deeply, are always open to learning, and talk through things until we land on the right solution. Plus, we genuinely enjoy each other’s company!

When I walk away from an EDC meeting, I always feel like I am taking something with me that will make me a better leader at the office—be it a new idea, a partnership opportunity, or data that can help me make better decisions. And, just as importantly, I also feel that I have contributed to efforts that are going to meaningfully improve the lives of San Diegans. I will never meet most of the business owners and community members whose lives are touched by the work we do at EDC, but I feel immensely proud knowing that I am collaborating with a group that is genuinely committed to the betterment of San Diego and is championing strategies that will impact our region for generations to come.

What role do you see women playing across the San Diego region in the next five years?

It has been very inspiring to watch the number of women in significant leadership roles grow across San Diego over the last few years. There have been ceilings shattered in visible and not-so-visible positions, and a lot of intentionality in making board rooms and other decision-making seats much more equitable when it comes to gender. Just in recent months, we have seen the first Latina be elected to the County Board of Supervisors, a Filipina appointed to the Southwestern College Board, and a Black woman selected at as the first Chief Innovation Officer for the City of San Diego.

My stats? As the second in command at MAAC, I am the highest-ranking woman in the organization’s 55-year history, and I’m the first Latina appointed to the EDC’s Executive Committee.

Though we have made significant strides, we can’t get comfortable. Among the many things we have learned since March 2020 is that all the gains we have made towards gender equity at home and in the workplace can quickly disappear. In the last 12 months, across our country, 2.3 million women have left the workforce. The story is not much brighter for those that remain employed: men have been promoted three times more than women during the pandemic. And, of course, sustaining pay inequity, with women earning 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, and that number drops to 70 cents for working moms. There is work to be done: women are hold a disproportionate number of low-wage jobs; there aren’t sufficient affordable, high-quality childcare options; and retirement savings are virtually nonexistent for one in five women. As a region, we have to wrap our arms around some really complex issues. EDC’s work provides very important tools to do so.

Share with us your favorite quote.

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” –Maya Angelou

This quote sits in a frame, in my office at work so I don’t forget to bring my full self to any situation – including all the uncommon parts of my personal and work history. I’ve learned not to hide them because they are what gives me the unique leadership perspective I have today.

What advice do you have for women in business?

Growing up, my mom often told me that there will always be people that have more than us and others who have less. I think about that often when I look back at my career, taking stock of what I’ve done and what I have yet to accomplish. There is always someone that has gone before me, that I can learn from and be inspired by. Likewise, there is someone that is following in my footsteps, who can benefit from the lessons I’ve gained and things I’ve experienced.

So how does that tie into my advice for women in business? Four words: lift as you climb.

Follow along with Lisette on Twitter: @lisetteislas1

Meet our Board: Tonya Cross

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are publishing a series of blogs about the women behind EDC—our fearless leaders, our board members, our executive committee, our guiding lights. Below you’ll learn more about Tonya Cross, SVP of people and corporate operations at Lytx. Tonya talked to us about the importance of doing what you love, and trusting that it will take you in the right direction.

Tell us who you are and what you do. Why did you choose your career?

Born in San Diego but raised in a tiny Arizona town, I always knew I belonged in my hometown. After high school graduation, without a plan, I drove to San Diego and haven’t looked back. My 17-year-old self would’ve never imagined I’d be a lawyer turned SVP, People & Corporate Operations for an amazing company.

It’s so fun being part of the Lytx team, building a market-leading company in the video telematics space. With our technology, we help save lives on our roadways every day. Since joining, I’ve had the pleasure of helping Lytx grow from fewer than 100 employees to nearly 800 – we’re hiring.

My career journey is a winding path because I gravitate toward what allows me to do what I love. I’ve had fantastic mentors who guided me in career choices and believed in me more than I believed in myself at the time. Starting as a legal secretary, I was encouraged by Amy Wintersheimer and fellow EDC Board member, Heather Ace, to attend law school. Flash forward, I’m a USD Law graduate practicing employment law at DLA Piper.

I loved law – but hated litigation’s contentious nature. Wanting to invest my energy in moving people forward in positive ways, I turned to HR. I love HR because I get to empower others and help employees advance their careers.

To follow what I love meant having the courage to leave what wasn’t right for me – even if it meant stepping back in title or compensation.

What does your involvement in EDC mean to you?

Working with the EDC is an opportunity to give back to the community I love, particularly with my involvement as HR forum co-leader. I feel fortunate to be in this role and part of an incredible group of community leaders, especially during COVID. Our leaders guide companies and employees through this global pandemic and make difficult decisions in an unprecedented environment. We have navigated this scary time as a collective group. It never felt like we were doing it alone because we had each other.

What role do you see women playing across the San Diego region in the next five years?

I believe women will play an even more significant leadership role, not just in the community side of things but also in leading businesses. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, women have had a lot coming at them – both from a family perspective and a work perspective. I watched many women step up and lead through this uncertainty with empathy, compassion, and strength. I believe these women will carry that leadership forward into whatever fuels their passion, take on leadership roles, and drive positive change.

Share with us your favorite quote.

“Love what you do and do what you love.” – Roy T. Bennett

What advice do you have for women in business?

Find what you love and go towards it with courage and confidence. Never put limits on yourself because your possibilities are limitless, especially when you’re doing what you love. Never doubt that you’re good enough because you are. GO. FOR. IT! If you fail, you fail. Dust yourself off and get back in the game with all the learnings you gained from the journey. No doubt it’s scary but turn that fear around into drive. When you’re doing what you love, you can’t go wrong.

Follow along with Lytx on Twitter: @lytx