San Diego’s Data Bites: March 2022

Presented by Meyers Nave, this edition of San Diego’s Data Bites covers January and February 2022, as well as an additional update on annual benchmark revisions, with data on employment and more insights about the region’s economy at this moment in time. Check out EDC’s Research Bureau for even more data and stats about San Diego.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. San Diego’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.7 percentage points–from a revised 4.7 percent in January to 4 percent in February–with nonfarm employment increasing by 16,500 payroll positions.
  1. Employers in the region added more than 104,000 payroll positions since February 2021–with Service Providing industries accounting for 102,600 of the added jobs–lowering the unemployment rate by 3.7 percentage points.
  1. Annual benchmark revisions to employment data show that the region’s economy was recovering more rapidly than initially believed. Specifically, revisions to nonfarm employment for December 2021 improved the jobs count by more than 40,000 workers.

Service Providing industries lead month-ago and year-ago changes

February’s jobs report painted a positive picture for the San Diego regional economy. With respect to changes from January to February, nonfarm employment increased by 16,500, driving the unemployment rate lower to 4 percent from a revised 4.7 percent in January. Service Providing industries led the pack in employment gains, as Professional and Business Services added 6,100 jobs, Educational and Health Services added 4,800 jobs, and Leisure and Hospitality added 4,200 jobs. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities dropped 2,700 jobs, however, with employers in Retail Trade shedding 2,300 payroll positions. Manufacturing industries also had a down month, with losses of 1,000 jobs in Durable Goods production.

Service Providing industries were also the leaders in year-ago employment gains from February 2021, adding more than 104,000 jobs to the region. The slow and steady employment gains over the last year have resulted in the unemployment rate dropping by almost four percentage points from a revised 7.9 percent in February 2021 to 4 percent in February 2022. Within the Service Providing sector, Leisure and Hospitality added 52,700 positions, which is a good sign of recovery as these companies were the hardest hit during the pandemic. Employers in Professional and Business services also added 21,100 payroll positions, 9,300 of which were in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services. These gains were not felt across all industries, however, as Durable Goods manufacturing lost 1,900 jobs from February 2021.

February employment inches closer to pre-pandemic levels

Looking at changes from February 2020 to February 2022 shows that the region is getting ever closer to pre-pandemic levels, a good sign for the recovery of San Diego’s economy. Total nonfarm employment is only about 25,000 (1.64 percent) lower than before the pandemic. Over half of these missing jobs are in Leisure and Hospitality, as the industry shows 14,000 fewer jobs in February 2022 than the same month in 2020, a gap of around 7 percent. Durable goods manufacturing is also exhibiting signs of a slower recovery with 6,200 fewer payroll positions than before the pandemic, or about 7 percent lower.

Despite some industries still playing catch-up, many have surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels. Professional and Business Services employers have added 19,300 payroll positions since February 2020, an increase of 7.4 percent. Notably, Administrative and Support and Waste Services have added 11,000 jobs (up 12.4 percent) while Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services have increased employment by 8,900 (up 6.05 percent). Speaking to San Diego’s position as a leader in Innovation and Life Sciences, companies in Scientific Research and Development Services have added 7,300 jobs since the start of the pandemic, an increase of more than 20 percent. With a hiring frenzy in innovation-related industries in full force, it is imperative for our region’s competitiveness that we continue to bolster the supply of the skilled labor that San Diego companies demand.

This means building a strong local talent pipeline of home-grown talent. It also means addressing the region’s affordability crisis so that it remains attractive to both businesses and workers. More at inclusiveSD.org.

Annual revisions show employment was greater during 2021 than first believed

Every March, the California Employment Development Division works with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to revise employment data, a process called benchmarking. Depending on the year and the difficulties in gathering accurate employment data, these revisions might be significant. For reasons that should be unsurprising by now, 2021 was one such year.

What is striking about these revisions is the increasing underestimation of employment throughout 2021. Although January’s revised employment count was only about 500 greater than original estimates, the number had grown to 40,600 by December 2021. Put another way, original estimates were about 3 percent lower than the revised numbers. While this may seem like a trivial distinction, it does indicate that San Diego’s economic recovery was even stronger than originally believed. In fact, the industries that were most impacted by the pandemic reported some of largest upward revisions.

Leisure and Hospitality had 14,600 more jobs in December 2021 with the revised numbers (an upward revision of 8.7 percent), being driven by 8,500 jobs in Accommodation and Food Services (an upward revision of 5.8 percent). Revisions increased the employment count in Professional and Business Services by 12,100 (an upward revision of 4.5 percent), largely attributable to changes in Administrative and Support Services (an upward revision of 7,400, or 8.7 percent). All industries did not show an increase due to the annual revisions, however. Employment in Construction was lowered by 2,900 jobs (a downward revision of 3.4 percent) while the jobs count in Retail Trade was decreased by 2,100 jobs (a downward revision of 1.4 percent).

Interested in more? You may also like to read:

A note from our COO

Together at last. 

EDC’s team, investors, and partners do our best work when we are together; this reflects our values of collaboration and inclusion and is core to our mission. But it’s been a minute…

While we safely begin to gather again, we recognize many things are different. Whether you have trepidation about returning to in-person gatherings or are eager to get from behind the Zoom screen, EDC will meet you where you’re at—offering opportunities for both interactions in the months and year ahead. Hearing from and being with our investors and partners in either setting is essential.

Last week, we hosted a two-day retreat with 40 leaders from industry, academia, nonprofits, and government to share complex data unpacking the pandemic’s impact on the 2030 Inclusive Growth goals. The common thread: inclusion is an economic imperative and thus, requires shifts in our regional priorities.

And this week for the first time in two years, EDC’s Chairman Julian Parra led an in-person board meeting with 60+ leaders across the region. Julian took the gavel in June 2020 and never imagined his term would largely be served virtually; however, he has continued to drive the inclusive economic development strategy with the same fervor as instilled by past EDC Chair Jim Zortman in 2017.

For the region to fully emerge from this global pandemic, it must reconcile an economic recovery that is full of contradictions. The region is simultaneously experiencing strong job growth and record venture capital inflows, along with a fierce battle of seemingly unavailable talent, small business closures, and the most expensive housing market in the U.S., with the brunt of these impacts incurred most by low-income earners and people of color. To get this recovery right, the San Diego region must double down on the goals for quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households.

That’s why we hope you will join us on April 8 at EDC’s Report to the Community, where we will unveil data on the region’s progress towards these goals and hear commitments from regional leaders.

Here are other opportunities for engagement with us in the months ahead:

  • This Friday, March 11, at our quarterly Economic Development Committee meeting, hear how San Diego companies are re-evaluating talent attraction techniques to see success in a new world of hiring challenges. Register now with password EcoDev2022.
  • On March 23, join the virtual Global Competitiveness Council meeting to hear an update from Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (CA-53) on the devastating conflict in Ukraine, followed by an update on the state of global aviation from the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
  • In May, EDC will host another investor reception—stay tuned for the date and location. If you missed any of our recent gatherings, we hope you are able join us.
  • On June 9, EDC celebrates the return of its Annual Dinner—this year at Petco Park. Together with 900+ friends and colleagues, join us for a special night honoring the region’s healthcare providers for their unwavering care and The San Diego Foundation for its essential community investments throughout the pandemic. If you would like to sponsor, please contact Jennifer Storm.

For two decades I have had the pleasure of being a part of the team at EDC. Never have I been more certain of our value proposition than right now. To our investors, my sincere gratitude for your support—especially these past two years. There is critical and challenging economic development work ahead, but with and through all of you, we can ensure our regional competitiveness and create better futures for more San Diegans. As our past EDC Chair Janice Brown reminded us, when Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the score for Hamilton, the lyric wasn’t “on the Zoom, it was “in the room where it happens.” Somewhere on the journey ahead, I look forward to being in the room alongside you.

With regards,

Lauree

Lauree Sahba
Lauree Sahba

Chief Operating Officer

READ EDC’S MONTHLY REPORT

A note on talent from Bree

It’s not you—it’s all of us. 

The long talked about ‘war for talent’ is more competitive than ever, with established firms upending whole hiring systems to meet the demands of today’s applicants—and still, not getting enough. You are not alone; this is not a one-company problem. In our countless conversations with HR leaders and executives, it’s clear firms across industries and size are struggling to fill their open positions (EDC included).

In a survey of 200 local businesses, hiring difficulty reached a new high in December. That same month, local San Diego employers posted more than 158,000 unique jobs—nearly half of which were new positions and predominantly in STEM. And yet, there are just 61,000 people currently unemployed in the region.

Flexibility. Remote work. Mission. Culture. Inclusion. The pandemic flipped the script on workforce demands with companies across the country being stretched to meet the needs of prospective recruits. Established firms can’t compete with the benefits offered by startups from salary to signing bonus to equity. Startups can’t offer the structure or safety net available at large corporations. Yet San Diego is uniquely positioned to compete.

The region stands apart with its thousands of mission-driven companies, its unparalleled quality of life, and its collaborative ecosystem. These are the stories we tell in San Diego: Life. Changing., and the connections we drive through Advancing San Diego.

EDC can help:

  • Lean into the San Diego story in selling your business to recruits using these tools;
  • Engage with us to mold student curriculum to meet your industry needs;
  • Apply for interns paid for by EDC’s foundation;
  • And share your open roles for promotion across our channels.

And above all, turn inward to upskill and promote your existing workforce and consider rethinking existing job requirements which may be inadvertently excluding qualified San Diegans. Pandemic-induced challenges aren’t going away soon, and the battle for talent may endure, but with San Diego as your homebase, we’ve got you covered.

All my best—Bree

Bree Burris
Bree Burris

Director, Marketing & Communications

READ EDC’S MONTHLY REPORT

Meet our Advancing San Diego Preferred Providers of Life Sciences Talent

Source your science talent from these edu programs…

Fueled by industries like Tech, Defense, and Life Sciences, San Diego’s innovation economy relies on a pipeline of diverse talent. However, local companies continue to cite access to quality talent as a persistent and growing challenge. Ninety-eight percent of firms in San Diego are small companies (<100 employees) that often lack time and resources to effectively compete for talent with their larger counterparts. Meanwhile, many San Diegans are disconnected from high-demand job opportunities, largely due to education requirements.

Made possible by JPMorgan Chase, Advancing San Diego is a demand-driven strategy to address talent shortages and remove barriers for small companies to access qualified workers. It is a collaborative effort between EDC, San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association, San Diego Workforce Partnership, City of San Diego, and United Way of San Diego.

Over the last six months, Advancing San Diego partners worked with a group of 22 employers to develop skills-based criteria for Lab Technicians (aka Research Assistants). We asked that any education provider meeting that criteria apply for the Preferred Provider designation. An employer-led review panel then evaluated these applicants against the skills criteria to determine which programs should be designated as ‘Preferred Providers,’ recognized as those most effectively preparing individuals for jobs and internships as Lab Technicians.

EDC is eager to announce Preferred Providers of Life Sciences Talent:

Need science talent?

Advancing San Diego will select up to 20 high-growth Life Sciences companies in the region to host paid Lab Technician/Research Assistant interns, sourced from the above Preferred Provider programs, at no cost to the business. Selected companies will be asked to host two interns for 240 hours each during the Summer 2022. Interns will be paid through Advancing San Diego, and have access to additional funds to support their success in the workplace. Apply here—applications close February 14.

Sign up to receive updates on Advancing San Diego

For more information, visit AdvancingSD.org.

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San Diego’s Changing Business Landscape: Increasing optimism after a year of struggle

Welcome to the final edition in EDC’s Changing Business Landscape Series, which is published bi-monthly in the San Diego Business Journal and here on our blog. If you missed them, check out all past editions here.

Surveying the changing business landscape in San Diego

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of life, including how businesses operate. Companies in every industry are rapidly re-evaluating how they do business, changing the way they interact with customers, manage supply chains and where their employees are physically located. This has massive immediate and long-term implications for San Diego’s workforce and job composition, as well as regional land use decisions and infrastructure investment.

To identify evolving trends in local business needs and operations, ensuring their ability to grow and thrive in the region, San Diego Regional EDC surveyed nearly 200 companies in the region’s key industries on a rolling basis throughout 2021 to monitor and report shifts in their priorities and strategies. In addition, EDC constructed the San Diego Business Recovery Index (BRI)—a sentiment index to measure companies’ perceptions of current conditions, as well as expectations for the future across several factors such as business development, employment and commercial real estate needs. (An index value >50 reflects expansion, and a value <50 reflects contraction. More information on the index and how it is calculated is available at sandiegobusiness.org/research.)

These insights will help inform long-term economic development priorities around talent recruitment and retention, quality job creation, and infrastructure development. Companies are surveyed on several topics, with varying emphases in each wave.

Here are three key findings from the final wave of surveying conducted in December 2021:

    1. Companies have settled into their pandemic modes of operation. Revenues and employment have stabilized, driving positive sentiment of San Diego’s current business environment.
    1. Pandemic-driven challenges aren’t going away soon. Businesses report greater struggles with hiring, retention, and supply chain disruptions than at any other point in 2021.
    1. Businesses enter 2022 with a renewed level of optimism. The challenge will be in meeting industry’s growth with infrastructure investment needed to sustain it.

San Diego businesses reported mainly positive views on both the current conditions and expectations for region’s economy during the next six to 12 months. Although there was significant variation in these sentiments depending on the size of establishment, the overall results of December’s Changing Business Landscape survey were positive. The BRI climbed 9.4 points from 54.1 in October to 63.5 in December, reflecting more positive views of current economic conditions as well as much more bullish view of the future.

Companies have settled into their pandemic modes of operation

Across firm size and industry, business perceptions are that San Diego’s economic engines have adapted better than peer metros in the United States during the pandemic. As new coronavirus variants continue to surface, this adaptability is paramount to the continued success of the region’s businesses, both large and small. Furthermore, businesses rated San Diego’s economic health higher in December than at any other point in the year.

The biggest driver behind the rosy views of current business conditions surrounds employment, with San Diego businesses indicating that they have significantly increased their workforce since the start of the pandemic. This is principally driven by innovation industries, such as Life Sciences and Manufacturing. Life Sciences companies, in particular, are growing rapidly, raising $5 billion in venture capital funding in 2021 alone.

Along with growing payrolls, San Diego businesses are also reporting a rebound in both revenues and earnings. However, the magnitude of the rebound varies by business size. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees reported milder up swings (BRI values in the low-50s) compared to businesses with more than 250 employees (BRI values in the mid-70s). Here again, Life Sciences and Manufacturing led the way. However, some surprising results came from Software companies which reported declines in both revenues and earnings back in October. This could also be attributable to a surge in venture funding during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Finally, business leaders appear to have adapted to the constant disruption from new coronavirus variants and we enter the third year of a pandemic. More are reporting additional changes to their human resource policies and related procedures to operate effectively, and satisfaction with remote work arrangements remains high.

Pandemic-driven challenges aren’t going away soon

The employment gains reported by companies have not come easily. Employers indicated that hiring difficulty has reached a new low with December’s BRI at a dismal 8.4, a massive drop from October’s already low level of 28.4. Not only are the region’s businesses spinning their wheels over ever-increasing difficulty hiring, but a new record rate of workers quitting across the U.S. has made the war for talent a two-front war. San Diego entered 2021 with more than 122,000 people unemployed. Over the course of the year that number has fallen by half and while there is technically surplus of workers in the region, demand for workers is even greater. In fact, during the month of December employers posted more than 158,000 unique jobs—nearly half of which are new positions. Nearly every industry is in need of more workers and the demand is translating into higher advertised salaries.

In addition to their troubles recruiting and retaining talent, San Diego businesses reported a sharp decline in their ability to manage suppliers and vendors as the global supply chain knot continues to disrupt normal business operations. These issues appear to be worse for larger companies, as they often require intermediate inputs from international vendors in larger quantities than smaller businesses, making it more difficult to find new suppliers when there is a delay in production or shipping. Despite these disruptions, San Diego’s transportation cluster continues to grow. This is important because it supports more than 90,000 local jobs while propelling San Diego’s global competitiveness.

Businesses enter 2022 with a renewed level of optimism

Businesses reported strong future expectations across every single forward-looking BRI segment in December. Notably, San Diego companies with more than 250 employees once again expect to lease or purchase additional commercial space in the next six to 12 months after expressing desires to reduce their collective footprint in October. Here again, medical device manufacturers, and manufacturers more broadly, are driving the trend. Additionally, expectations for future remote work were strongest in December by a large margin. Companies of all sizes and industry have embraced remote work, to some degree, as a part of how they operate going forward.

While the impacts of omicron are not necessarily captured during the last wave of surveying, businesses nonetheless feel that San Diego has fared well in adapting to changing regulations and continuous staffing and supply chain uncertainties. If this is, in fact, the next normal, San Diego’s economic engines are well positioned to drive that growth.

While businesses surveyed leave 2021 with a renewed sense of optimism, 2022 will bring more questions than answers. Will remote work and a continually rising cost of living begin to drive talent away? Will the ‘great resignation’ translate into surge of new startups? Will record venture capital prove to be circumstantial or drive a new Life Sciences boom? Will the billions of dollars of public funding from the state align to support growth? EDC will be monitoring these trends and how companies continue to adapt in the face of an ever-changing business landscape.

For San Diego to fully emerge from this global pandemic, it must reconcile an economic recovery that is full of contradictions. The region is simultaneously experiencing strong job growth and eye-watering venture capital investment, along with widespread labor shortages, small business closures, and a housing market that is nearly 30 percent more expensive. Moreover, these impacts were not felt evenly across the region. The brunt of the adverse health and economic impacts of the pandemic were incurred by low-income earners and people of color.

The past year was one of adaptation and endurance, but also a year that reinforced the need to focus on the fundamental building blocks of a strong economy—quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households. The next year will be one where 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. More than ever, smart economic development means inclusive economic development.

For more data and analysis, visit our research page.

This research is made possible by:

San Diego’s Data Bites: January 2022

Presented by Meyers Nave, this edition of San Diego’s Data Bites covers December 2021, with data on employment and more insights about the region’s economy at this moment in time. Check out EDC’s Research Bureau for even more data and stats about San Diego.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. San Diego’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in December from 4.6 percent in November; the number of people unemployed is nearly half of what it was a year ago.
  1. A banner year in venture capital funding appears to be driving job growth in Scientific Research and Development Services, which ended 2021 up 13.6 percent.
  1. The demand for skilled workers far exceeds the current supply of talent within the region. Key positions that employers are hiring for have high salaries and educational requirements.

Job losses and lower labor force participation in December

San Diego saw its unemployment rate fall again in December to 4.2 percent, however labor force participation declined as well. Compared to December 2020, there are now 56,900 fewer people unemployed. While many have returned to work as evidenced by the strong job growth throughout 2021, more than 65,000 people continue to be out of work. The region’s unemployment rate remains below that of the state and above the national average, 5.0 percent and 3.7 percent respectively, as it has been throughout the year.

Total nonfarm employment dropped by 1,200 jobs in December. Construction and Healthcare and Social Assistance experienced the greatest monthly declines, each shedding 2,400 payroll positions. However, many of the job losses were offset by gains in other sectors. Professional and Business Services led the way with 4,100 jobs added in December and is now up 5.3 percent from December 2020. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities also increased by 2,500 jobs, driven by Retail Trade, which boosted the overall sector with 1,200 jobs.

Record venture capital funding is propelling job growth

In 2021, the region pulled in nearly $9 billion of venture funding dwarfing anything seen in years past. While the biggest venture capital deals have gone toward technology startups, San Diego Life Sciences companies pulled in $1.6 billion more than their tech counterparts throughout the year. The surge of venture capital dollars is beginning to translate into faster job growth in San Diego.

Scientific Research and Development Services added 1,700 jobs in December after averaging monthly gains of just 300 jobs during the first 11 months of 2021 and is now up 5,200, or 13.6 percent, compared to a year ago. This represents a rapid acceleration from the 7.0 percent growth rate of previous five years. Looking further back, we see that the industry has nearly doubled its contribution to the regional economy, which was slightly above $5 billion in 2010 and is now about $9.7 billion.

While an additional 5,200 jobs in a high paying industry is certainly welcome, an analysis of job postings suggests that San Diego employers were trying to hire as many as 39,000 more workers in 2021. The demand is mostly for high-skilled, high-paying positions. In fact, more than 21 percent of jobs in the industry are concentrated in just four occupations: medical scientists, biochemists and biophysicists, project management specialists, and software developers. Importantly, all these positions typically require a four-year college degree at the entry-level.

Employers have reported increasing difficulty hiring throughout the year, leaving the region woefully undersupplied in terms of the talent needed to sustain industry growth. Ensuring that the region is an affordable one is paramount to attracting and retaining talent. In the long-term, San Diego must invest in the next generation workforce and develop a pipeline of skilled talent to meet employer demand. Looking at the demographics of the region, the focus must be on an inclusive economic development strategy that support Black and Brown youth at the same level of their white peers. Doing so will safeguard the future competitiveness of the region.

Interested in more? You may also like to read:

A note from Dr. Clarke

Goals for 2022

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

Nikia Clarke
Nikia Clarke

Senior Vice President; Executive Director, World Trade Center San Diego

READ EDC’S MONTHLY REPORT

READ EDC’S 2021 ANNUAL REPORT

SEE SAN DIEGO’S GOOD NEWS OF THE YEAR

2021: World Trade Center San Diego supports 50 businesses as region works toward recovery

15

companies supported

850

jobs supported

$10 M

net export increase, 2021

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), an affiliate of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), cultivates a pipeline of export-ready firms, maximizes foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities, and enhances San Diego’s global identity. A globally-connected economy creates quality jobs and makes the San Diego region more prosperous, competitive, and resilient – especially crucial amid COVID-19 and its aftershocks.

As we look toward 2022, here are four key ways WTCSD helped make San Diego a more globally competitive, resilient region:

1. MetroConnect V helps companies go global, awards fifth winner

2021 was an exciting year for WTCSD’s MetroConnect export accelerator program as the fifth cohort of incredible small to mid-sized San Diego companies wrapped up participation in the program.

These companies received $5,000 grants to bolster their export initiatives and international expansion efforts. Amid a pandemic, companies needed more digital support services than ever to help navigate growing e-commerce needs during the pandemic. To support, WTCSD held a Digital Trade Series, which assessed each client’s needs and arranged one-on-one counseling sessions with contracted e-commerce experts.

Over the course of the program, one company stood out – with MetroConnect’s support, satellite-based communications and fleet management company Blue Sky Network generated a 36 percent increase in monthly recurring revenue in Brazil, as well as its largest order to date. To support this growth, the company hired seven new full-time employees. Ultimately, WTCSD crowned Blue Sky Network MetroConnect V’s winner and awarded it a $25,000 grant toward its international expansion goals.

Over the past five years of MetroConnect, 80 companies collectively leveraged $890,000 in export grants, resulting in a $95 million net increase in exports from the San Diego region.

2. WTCSD debuts a regional trade and investment strategy for 2025

In 2015, San Diego Regional EDC’s release of “Go Global: San Diego’s Trade and Investment Initiative,” launched the World Trade Center in San Diego, bringing regional companies and stakeholders together with a global vision. Throughout 2020 and early 2021, WTC engaged many of the same partners, and new ones, in an effort to gauge how the region measured up to it, more than five years later. This 2021 update analyzed the state of exports, foreign investment and VC, as well as the extraordinary impact of COVID. Through rigorous data analysis dozens of interviews with public and private-sector leaders, WTC synthesized a set of five key priorities the region should focus on over the next five years. Find out what they are here. Key findings include:

  • 2020 saw $3 billion in foreign investment into San Diego
  • 73 percent of investment into San Diego is in Life Sciences
  • San Diego exports $22 billion in goods each year
  • San Diego is a top 10 services exporter among U.S. metros

Heading into 2022, we expect to see FDI investment portfolios return to the same levels seen in 2019.

3. Export Small Business Development Center (SBDC) supports export and COVID-relief projects

Beyond MetroConnect, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at WTCSD provided 35 export-ready small companies with the support needed to navigate international goals, including exports, manufacturing support, and more.

In addition to expansion support, the Export Specialty Center continued to offer COVID-19 recovery resources at no cost, helping San Diego companies like Funki Adventures apply to Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) 2nd Draw, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, and City and County small business grants.

Finally, the Global Readiness Program saw a partnership between WTCSD and the University of San Diego help local small to mid-sized businesses secure STEP grants to grow the regional export pipeline.

4. WTCSD serves as a key source of market intelligence

WTCSD conducted a series of business surveys to better inform decision making of regional partners and affiliates. These included:

Corporate Travel Survey:

  • Survey of 12 large businesses and two non-profits in the region to better understand travel and budgets forecasts for the year ahead. This information was critical for the retention of existing service out of SAN and for the attraction of future direct flights. It found:
    • 79 percent of respondents are willing to pay a premium to fly on a San Diego nonstop route versus flying out from Tijuana or Los Angeles
    • 56 percent of respondents expressed a desire for nonstop service to Mexico City and Sao Paulo

EDC Changing Business Landscape Survey:

  • Survey of more than 100 business in the San Diego region, aimed at informing long-term development priorities, across business areas. It found:
    • 14 percent of respondents currently import and/or export out of the Port of San Diego
    • 24 percent of those surveyed would be interested in using the Port of San Diego if they provided service to the types of goods they ship

READ THE FULL REPORT

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 small or medium-sized company is ready to export and grow internationally, World Trade Center San Diego is here to help.

Ready to export? Apply to MetroConnect VI by December 17.

Want to know more about WTCSD? Click here to receive our monthly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

What we learned at Career Exploration Day 2021

San Diego’s economy, made up of innovative companies doing life-changing work, is fueled by skilled talent. Each job in the innovation economy supports another two jobs in the region, allowing for San Diego’s rapid economic growth despite a global pandemic. However, future growth is threatened by barriers to quality employment that many San Diegans face. Changing skill requirements, existing demographic gaps in educational attainment, and a nationwide battle for talent, coupled with a soaring cost of living, continue to threaten San Diego’s competitiveness as a region.

As we work to get San Diego’s recovery right and build a more equitable, inclusive region, EDC’s Advancing San Diego (ASD) program aims to better prepare San Diegans for quality jobs, and expand access to diverse, qualified talent for San Diego companies. As part of this work, ASD hosted its second annual Career Exploration Day and Virtual Career Fair. Sponsored by Qualcomm Incorporated, the virtual event served to connect students from all over San Diego County, who are enrolled in employer-verified training programs, with opportunities across a diverse range of industries and professions. Via an online platform, ASD connected nearly 100 local students with 22 companies including startups Smartville and Flock Freight, established firms Booz Allen Hamilton and San Diego Gas & Electric, and many more. In the day-long event, students and employers had the opportunity to network and interview, share job opportunities, and listen in on career exploration panels with professionals in high-demand roles and industries.

“At Qualcomm, we’re looking to expand our recruitment of diverse talent while cultivating new opportunities to hire locally”, said Heather Ace, Chief Human Resources Officer at Qualcomm Incorporated. “Career Exploration Day offers us the opportunity to both connect with potential local candidates and support the broader talent development efforts being driven by the EDC here in San Diego.”

ICYMI, we’ve compiled for advice for students from the event

1. Be a chameleon; learn to adapt:

COVID-19 has made one thing clear: Your plans may change. Different externalities will force you to change your strategies and the way you work. Take this opportunity to learn to be adaptable; this will help you be successful into the future.

As Sharp Healthcare’s Talent Acquisition Specialist Jason Pijapaert shared in the Healthcare and Life Sciences panel, “Being able to roll with the punches and having the ability to work collaboratively with a diverse group of people that have different mindsets, expertise, and opinions is vital in any workplace. Being adaptable to your environment and the different challenges that you will inevitably be presented with will allow you to grow and be better at what you do.”

2. Consider opportunities to say “Yes”:

Now, we’re not talking about taking on unimaginable workloads or saying yes beyond your boundaries. Instead, we mean saying yes to new opportunities, yes to learning new things, yes to working with a different team, yes to taking risks.

Lalitta Ghandikota, Senior Director of Talent at Element Biosciences, shared in the Healthcare and Life Sciences panel the key to her success has been saying yes to every opportunity. In the beginning, it may seem like you know nothing about what you just got yourself into, but those will be the times when you will have the most fun growing and learning. “I always say that the time in your career where you are having the most fun is also probably when you are most terrified,” she said.

3. Take time to learn: 

With millions of websites and video tutorials available, taking the time to learn a new skill or improve an existing one will give you an important advantage when looking for a job or an internship.

Dr. Michael Alston, Senior Staff Engineer at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., says our most valuable employees innovate in ways that increase the productivity of other employees or create new products or services. On the Engineering and Manufacturing panel, he shared, “for students, websites like code.org (which teaches computational thinking), and Python.org (a versatile, widely-used coding language) are great platforms for building skills useful for innovation.”

4. Don’t forget about soft skills:

While hard skills like coding or data mining are crucial for certain roles, leveraging your soft skills can help you stand out. The ability to manage your time effectively, think critically about a problem, absorb constructive criticism, communicate effectively both internally and externally, and collaborate across teams is just as valuable as knowing a particular programming language.

Regardless of your industry or position, you’ll always need to work effectively with people of different backgrounds and skills to get a project done well. Leverage these skills when you’re speaking with recruiters to showcase a different facet of professional strength.

What now?

  • Interested in careers in key industry sectors? Visit ASD’s Preferred Provider Map where you can find leading training programs that have been certified by employers.
    • Looking to join our network of Preferred Providers? Sign up to get updates on ASD’s future talent pipeline management work.
  • Looking for skilled local talent? Contact Taylor Dunne, Talent Initiatives Manager, and we will help you get in touch with San Diego’s skilled talent pool.
  • Check out jobs at Qualcomm and many other local firms hiring across San Diego.
  • Learn more at AdvancingSD.org

Release: Life Sciences Talent Demand Report and Preferred Provider Application

Advancing San Diego has released its sixth Talent Demand Report, this time focusing on the Life Sciences industry. Advancing San Diego joined forces with Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) to collaborate on a first-of-its-kind cross-regional workforce development study between two California metros using the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management framework. The two organizations worked together to identify:

  • A high-demand occupation in need of a strengthened and diversified talent pipeline
  • The skills needed to fill that occupation in an industry that fuels the economies of both regions.

By engaging employers from both San Diego and Los Angeles, some of which have locations in both regions, Advancing San Diego and LAEDC are working to create a common language and understanding of employer need throughout Southern California.

VIEW THE FULL REPORT

APPLY TO BE A PREFERRED PROVIDER OF LIFE SCIENCES TALENT

 

Resources

  • Watch the Talent Demand Webinar where we release the report and walk through the application process HERE.
  • View and download the full list of skills criteria HERE.
  • Download a Google Doc version of the Preferred Provider application to prepare responses HERE.

About Advancing San Diego:

Advancing San Diego is a collaborative effort to better prepare San Diegans for quality jobs via locally-serving education institutions and expand access to diverse, qualified talent for San Diego companies. The program works to help the region meet its inclusive growth goals by strengthening relationships between local industry and education systems. Better alignment between these systems will mean that the region can collectively prepare San Diegans for high-demand jobs, and local employers – many of which are small companies – can establish or expand recruitment relationships with locally-serving institutions. Learn more about the program here.

How we do it:

  • Gather job skills requirements through employer working groups
  • Share insights with education partners and publicly recognize programs as industry-approved Preferred Providers of talent
  • Build a network of locally-serving Preferred Provider programs and connect companies to students of those programs, including fully-subsidized internships for small companies

 

The collaboration between Advancing San Diego and LAEDC was made possible by:

Advancing San Diego is made possible by JP Morgan Chase, and is a collaborative effort by the following organizations:

Other resources you may be interested in:

Questions? Contact us:

Taylor Dunne
Taylor Dunne

Sr. Manager, Talent Initiatives