Innovate78 hosts first-ever virtual Innovators Dinner

As the world was forced to pivot to full-time remote and online in Q2, the Innovate78 quarterly in-person Innovators Dinners successfully transitioned to a virtual event.

Innovate78 brought together a group of local business leaders to share advice and best practices on running their companies and cities virtually. As this event took place in mid-May, there was much discussion on how we can safely and quickly reopen the economy. Utilizing Zoom breakout sessions, we were able to curate intimate conversations with local businesses and the cities along the 78 Corridor.

The consensus from the attendees was overall positive and appreciative for continuing to hold these meaningful events. Attendee feedback echoed sentiments like, “Thank you for keeping this going and keeping the spirit alive!” The businesses along the 78 Corridor may have experienced initial setbacks with the shutdown, but they are bouncing back stronger than ever.

Innovate78 supports the business ecosystem of the 78 Corridor by further elevating the region’s reputation and assisting businesses as they evolve. The partnership between Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista helps businesses prosper in place for the betterment of all who work and reside here. The multi-city partnership furthers innovation with a shared vision to boost economic prosperity.

February Innovators Dinner inspires North County entrepreneurs

Last month, Innovate78 gathered 20 forward-thinking entrepreneurs and change makers along the 78 Corridor for its quarterly Innovators Dinner.  The evening was full of solid connections and candid conversation about how we can create a stronger entrepreneurial climate among North County’s five cities.

Each quarter, the Innovators Dinner invites a guest speaker to inspire local entrepreneurs by telling their startup story. In February, entrepreneur and software manager Drew Wilson told the crowd about his experience founding Plasso, a San Diego-based e-commerce company, and offered helpful advice regarding fundraising and investing. Ultimately, Drew sold the company to GoDaddy, and accepted a position there.

The Innovators Dinner Series aims to bring together a diversity of people, engaging in meaningful conversations about how we can all grow and build a more prosperous North County. Bringing together entrepreneurs from every corner of the 78 corridor, the wide range of industries represented at each event—from technology to manufacturing to brewing to life sciences—reflects the strength of the corridor.

To learn more about Innovate78 and upcoming events along the 78 Corridor, visit its website.


Innovator’s Dinner: The innovation of craft beer in San Diego’s upside

For the latest installment of the Innovator’s Dinner Series, Greg Koch, executive chairman and co-founder at Stone Brewing, joined a group of 25 entrepreneurs from North County to talk about the craft beer company’s growth story along the 78 Corridor. Now leading a 23-year-old company, Greg shared his thoughts and experience on how the company has grown, where they were able to find success, and how they’ve run into challenges in the last two decades.

The conversation showed entrepreneurs that are in the trenches of growing their business how Stone dealt with similar challenges, and ultimately, became a market leader in the craft beer industry. One underlying theme for the evening: An entrepreneur with a good idea needs grit to get through challenges, and the reward can be life-changing.

The Innovator’s Dinner series is part of the Startup78 initiative, which fosters entrepreneurship and supports the startup ecosystem along the 78 Corridor. Startups and entrepreneurs in the cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista (together, Innovate78) can find out more about upcoming events at

Introducing the Innovate78 Innovators Dinner Series

From inclusive growth to San Diego: Life. Changing., many of EDC’s most high profile initiatives have a similar origin story: they started with bringing the right people around the table. Looking to spur similar programs and initiatives on the 78 Corridor, Innovate78, a program funded by the five cities along the 78 Corridor (Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista) and managed by EDC, hosted its first Innovator Dinner in March 2019.

The Innovators Dinner Series is designed to bring together a diversity of people, engaging in meaningful conversations about how we can all grow and build a more prosperous North County. Bringing together 25 individuals from every corner of the 78 corridor, the wide range of industries represented—from technology to manufacturing to brewing to life sciences—reflected the strength of the corridor.

As the event got underway, the conversation gravitated toward natural themes of mentorship, access to capital, the viability of the local talent pool and more. The idea around remote work came up as well. With North County’s strong quality of life and abundance of coworking spaces, many have noted a rise in remote employees based in North County. However, one entrepreneur at the Innovators Dinner bucked that trend. Although his company is located on the 78 corridor, many of his employees are remote, and live as far away as the Midwest.

The Small Business Ecosystem Along the 78 Corridor


Small businesses, which represent approximately 98 percent of all local companies, are the backbone of the regional economy. This initiative, which includes a survey of 164 businesses along the 78 Corridor, seeks to uncover insight and gain a deeper understanding of small business perceptions of the regional business climate. The end goal is to develop new and enhance existing programming and support for small businesses in the 78 Corridor. For the purpose of this survey, small businesses are defined as having fewer than 100 employees.

This study was underwritten by Innovate78.

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Innovate78 Regional Profile


Innovate78 is the collaborative outcome of five cities – Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista – coming together with a shared vision to boost economic prosperity along the 78 Corridor. From tech startups to life sciences and communications, North County is the place where innovation and lifestyle collide. Here, in the five forward-thinking communities that comprise the 78 Corridor, creative leaders are gathering to continue this momentum of innovation and success.

Together, we represent Innovate78, a hub of innovation, that is driving talent and creative capital to the 78 Corridor.

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Community Profile: City of Vista


The City of Vista, located along North San Diego County’s 78 Corridor, is home to nearly 102,000 people spread across nearly 30,150 households. While accounting for only 3.1 percent of the San Diego region’s population, Vista is one of the faster growing cities in the region. Since 2010, the City has grown by 8.0 percent – a higher rate than the San Diego region as a whole – earning a spot as the seventh fastest growing city in the region between 2010 and 2016. Looking ahead, the Vista’s population is projected to grow by an additional 2.1 percent – approximately 2,096 people – by 2025.

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Tech: A look at the San Diego Region’s 78 Corridor


The 78 Corridor includes the cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista. With a population totaling 630,000, the Corridor is home to nearly one-fifth of residents in the San Diego Region. Employment along the Corridor exceeds 290,000 jobs – roughly 19 percent of the regional total – and annual gross regional product (GRP) surpasses $36 billion, making the 78 Corridor a major player in the regional economy. Moreover, North County has emerged as a leader of technological innovation; with over 850 total tech firms – a concentration nearly 42% above the national average – the 78 Corridor’s diverse and well-established tech cluster has seen steady growth in recent years. Contributing more than $6.1 billion annually and directly employing nearly 25,000 people, tech along the Corridor is a major engine of economic growth within the region.

Innovate78 is a marketing and economic development initiative led by five North County San Diego cities – Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista . Along the 78 Corridor, elected leaders, city staff, businesses, and
educational institutions are working to leverage the area’s collective strengths and assets – speaking with one voice to retain, expand, and attract talent, companies, and investment.

Read the full industry profile