Investor Spotlight: Commute with Enterprise

As a nonprofit, San Diego Regional EDC is supported by investment from nearly 200 private organizations, companies, and public agencies. With their support, EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego, and leads initiatives to enhance the region’s recovery and resilience.

We sat down with Neil Semcheski, sales manager at Commute with Enterprise, to discuss the company’s mission to combat traffic congestion and carbon emissions with affordable commuting solutions. Check out its Investor Spotlight below!


Tell us about Commute with Enterprise and its mission.

Commute with Enterprise‘s vanpool solutions are one of the largest and most cost-effective available today. As the largest U.S. vanpool operator, our company addresses both local and global needs by reducing traffic congestion, commute times, travel costs, parking land usage, and carbon emissions, all while providing commuters with a smarter and more efficient way to get to work.

Each year, our commuting solutions eliminate more than one billion commuter miles, clearing more than 45,000 individual vehicles from the road, and reducing carbon emissions by 812 pounds annually. Additionally, businesses that offer our programs not only build their sustainability profiles, but gain a competitive edge in the battle for talent.

In the wake of the pandemic and with the rise of hybrid working arrangements, we know commuters are looking for affordable and convenient alternatives for getting to and from work. For little to no cost to the employer, Commute offers customizable programs that benefit workers and their employers—an investment in employee well-being, attraction, and retention. Our vanpools have alleviated traffic congestion and reduced commuting costs by more than 80 percent.

A few EDC investors currently using Commute with Enterprise include Illumina, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Scripps Health, among other San Diego giants hailing from a variety of industries.

Why San Diego?

Commute with Enterprise established its first vanpool in San Diego 25 years ago, which still operates today. Commute with Enterprise has since served numerous employers in the region across industries including healthcare providers, manufacturing firms, tech and biotech startups, universities, DoD affiliates, and other military and federal entities.

One of the most significant partnerships Commute with Enterprise offers is with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), which provides financial incentives for vanpool offerings—a valuable complement to other forms of public transit offered in the region, especially for the 20-30 percent of the population who commute more than 60 miles each day.

Looking ahead, what’s on the horizon for your organization?

Commute with Enterprise is dedicated to continuing to grow our services in the San Diego region. With essential workforces still on site and as employees continue to return to the office, there’s a great opportunity for businesses to offer vanpool services as a valuable addition to their employee benefits package.

Tell us about Commute’s collaboration and partnership with San Diego Regional EDC.

Commute with Enterprise is excited to be a new San Diego Regional EDC investor and for the opportunity to add value to the organization. We are proud to support EDC investors’ goals of leading San Diego’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness, while investing in the workforces that power our great binational region.

Learn more: commutewithenterprise.com

LinkedIn: Commute with Enterprise

Read more about EDC’s investors in our investor spotlight blog series. Or, join Commute with Enterprise by becoming a member of EDC.

Interested in publishing an investor spotlight? Contact our team:

Candela Delucchi
Candela Delucchi

Coordinator, Investor Relations & Marketing

Investor Spotlight: The Lufthansa Group

As a non-profit, San Diego Regional EDC is supported by investment from nearly 200 private organizations, companies, and public agencies. With their support, EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego and, through its affiliate World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), leads global initiatives to enhance the region’s recovery and resilience.

We sat down with Lufthansa Group, WTCSD’s preferred European airline, to discuss its partnership with and support of key efforts to connect San Diego’s business community to Europe. Check out the investor spotlight below!


Tell us about Lufthansa Group and its commitment to global connectivity.

The Lufthansa Group is one of the world’s leading aviation groups, as well as the market leader in Europe’s airline sector. The airlines of the Lufthansa Group—Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Lufthansa, SWISS, and Eurowings Discover—fly business and leisure passengers to more than 300 destinations around the world via hubs in Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich. Passengers enjoy a premium product and a comprehensive route network, combined with the highest level of travel flexibility. In its 2022 summer schedule, the Lufthansa Group carriers will offer flights from 30 North American gateways to the various home market hubs, Europe-at-large, and the world.

From San Diego to Germany, and beyond 

A long-time partner, Lufthansa continues to work collaboratively with WTCSD and San Diego Regional Airport Authority (SAN) to offer a trusted gateway from our region into Western Europe.

In March 2022, Lufthansa launched its nonstop service to Munich, opening an opportunity for San Diego companies to partner with German and other EU innovators.

WTCSD’s 2021 Annual Report and the Go Global 2025 Report showed the San Diego business community is eager to return to international travel and expand global connectivity—and Lufthansa’s direct Munich flights have enjoyed positive feedback and frequent use since its launch.

Thriving Cities: A trade mission to the Netherlands

In September 2022, WTCSD will take a delegation of San Diego business leaders to the Netherlands via Lufthansa’s new direct flight to Munich. Over the course of a week, trade mission delegates will broaden international connectivity between San Diego and Western Europe with topics ranging from mobility, sustainability, to life sciences and tech.

In collaboration with Lufthansa and the Consulate of the Netherlands, WTCSD aims to drive increased investment between the two regions.

Are you a senior leader at a San Diego innovation company interested in joining the delegation? Contact Caroline Murray, listed below, for details.

From San Diego to the world

WTCSD looks forward to continuing its partnership with Lufthansa and collaborating on opportunities to help San Diego companies access new international markets through programs like:

  • MetroConnect
  • Future Trade missions
  • Reliable connectivity to Germany and beyond

Stay in touch

Read more about EDC’s investors in our investor spotlight blog series. Or, join Lufthansa Group and become a member of EDC.

Contact our team:

Caroline Murray
Caroline Murray

Coordinator, World Trade Center San Diego

Investor Spotlight: ITJ

As a non-profit, San Diego Regional EDC is supported by investment from nearly 200 private organizations, companies, and public agencies. With their support, EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego, and leads initiatives to enhance the region’s recovery and resilience.

We sat down with Maritza Diaz, CEO at ITJ, to discuss the company’s work to create technology centers of excellence in Mexico. Check out the investor spotlight below!

 


Tell us about ITJ and its mission.

ITJ is a binational U.S.-Mexican company founded in 2019 with the mission to enable U.S. companies to create technology centers of excellence in Mexico. ITJ serves fast-growing and high-value market sectors, particularly in Life Sciences, Biotechnology, and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), working with innovative medical device companies to improve people’s lives.

With a unique BOT (build, operate, and transfer) model that sources only the best digital talent available, ITJ empowers its partners to accelerate their digital innovation.

Why San Diego?

San Diego is recognized as one of the leading high-tech hubs in the U.S. Uniquely located in the Cali Baja region and home to more than 1,225 life sciences companies and 80 independent and university-affiliated research institutes, the symbiosis between San Diego and Tijuana has been crucial to building a prominent mega-region in the Life Sciences industry.

Tell us about ITJ’s collaboration and partnership with San Diego Regional EDC.

We are honored to partner with San Diego Regional EDC which has been doing a remarkable job linking members, government, policymakers, and other advocates to strengthen our community’s economic growth and support fast growing sectors like software development.

During our partnership, we have witnessed EDC’s extensive expertise and network—becoming a key player in our strategic goals for imperative growth.

Looking ahead, what is on the horizon for ITJ?

In June we celebrated the company’s third anniversary, and we have good reason to celebrate. Since 2019, ITJ has created more than 700 tech jobs serving U.S.-based companies and has grown our client base five-fold. In addition, with significant inroads in the Life Sciences, Healthcare, and Medical Device industries, ITJ has doubled its revenue in the past two years.

Furthermore, we are excited to announce that ITJ is opening its new offices in a state-of-the-art business building in Tijuana this month.

Learn more: itjuana.com

Twitter: @ITJuana_

Read more about EDC’s investors in our investor spotlight blog series. Or, join ITJ and become a member of EDC.

Interested in publishing an investor spotlight? Contact our team:

Investor Spotlight: ITJ
Investor Spotlight: ITJ

Red Door Interactive unveils new HQ in Sherman Heights

EDC, local leaders cut the ribbon on Red Door’s innovative office space

Today, EDC member Red Door Interactive, a national, award-winning marketing agency, unveiled its new San Diego headquarters alongside EDC and staff from Councilmember Vivian Moreno’s office at a ribbon cutting ceremony. Reflective of Red Door’s company culture and vision for the future of the modern workplace, the company’s three-building campus features panoramic views of Downtown San Diego, a variety of collaboration hubs, seven outdoor patio spaces, an urban garden, and state-of-the-art technology for interactive video conferencing throughout the campus, among other amenities for its 90-person staff to enjoy.

For Red Door, the project has been years in the making; the company originally purchased the land in Sherman Heights, a designated Opportunity Zone, for its new headquarters in 2020. Despite a variety of pandemic-fueled hurdles, construction for the project was crafted entirely by local vendors including AVRP, Swinerton, Cultura, and many more.

“We’re excited to bring our diverse team of talented, creative minds to this neighborhood,” Reid Carr, CEO and co-founder of Red Door Interactive, said. “This is not only a place of work for us, but a home for the work we do as a collective. We built this campus with an eye toward the future of work, along with the ability to reflect some of the best San Diego has to offer—outdoor spaces, accessibility, and the spirit of its unique neighborhoods.

With 20 years in offices in Downtown San Diego, including an award-winning, ground floor space in the DiamondView Tower at Petco Park, this new headquarters marks a bold move to a nearby neighborhood. It also represents Red Door’s commitment to physically coming together as a team, while also continuing to openly support hybrid and remote work—a philosophy the company embraced long before the pandemic.

Red Door hopes its new campus is a step toward bringing more awareness and investment to Sherman Heights. The neighborhood has long been regarded as a vibrant, historic place, rich in culture with fantastic views of downtown, Coronado, and the Bay—but it’s also centrally located around some of San Diego’s greatest assets. Sherman Heights provides easy access to Interstates 5 and 15, and state Routes 163 and 94. It’s also a few minutes from the San Diego International Airport and walkable to Balboa Park, and the unique neighborhoods of East Village, Golden Hill, and Barrio Logan.

EDC’s Mark Cafferty shares, “Reid and the team at Red Door Interactive have always been stewards of our region—investing in organizations like EDC and charting paths for other local companies in San Diego’s urban core. Twenty years ago, the company began a movement in East Village that proved to be monumental for the growth of Downtown. We know Red Door will bring that same vision, passion, and creativity to the historic and vibrant Sherman Heights community.”

Investor Spotlight: Bristol Myers Squibb

As a nonprofit, San Diego Regional EDC is supported by investment from nearly 200 private organizations, companies, and public agencies. With their support, EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego, and leads initiatives to enhance the region’s recovery and resilience.

We sat down with Neil Bence, vice president of oncology discovery and San Diego site head at Bristol Myers Squibb, to discuss the company’s mission to combat serious diseases with life-changing medicines. Check out its Investor Spotlight below!


Tell us about Bristol Myers Squibb and its mission.

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.

Protein degradation is a core strength for BMS R&D, and we are building on our legacy and scientific expertise to discover and develop therapeutic approaches in blood cancers, solid tumors, and other important therapeutic areas. Protein degradation is the process by which proteins are destroyed in a cell; with targeted protein degradation, our researchers are harnessing the cell’s own machinery to degrade several whole new classes of proteins that were previously considered “undruggable.”

Why San Diego?

San Diego is an important hub for innovation and we are committed to our presence and leadership in the vibrant life sciences ecosystem. Our location in San Diego allows our scientists to leverage state-of-the-art technologies to profile diseases and activate biopharma and academic partnerships earlier in discovery and development.

Recently, BMS announced the execution of a long-term lease for the development of a new R&D facility—an iconic 427,000 square foot world-class building at Alexandria Point. Bringing our four sites together into a single building will accelerate collaboration across all research groups and drive BMS’ commitment to bringing critical medicines to patients living with serious illnesses.

We wanted to pursue a San Diego site footprint that encourages collaboration and cultural integration, enables organic growth, and promotes agility to pursue new scientific opportunities. Our extensive San Diego R&D campus houses several distinct industry capabilities, including our Oncogenesis Thematic Research Center, Discovery Biotherapeutics, Medicinal Chemistry, and Nonclinical Research and Development teams.

In San Diego, BMS scientists are focused on the exploration of novel biology and target concepts such as protein degradation and complex biologics. This research is to better understand the complexities of cancer, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative diseases in order to advance the next generation of therapies to help treat these diseases which currently have high unmet needs.

How is BMS improving access to quality care of medically under-resourced patients in San Diego?

BMS is united by a critical mission: Transforming patients’ lives through science. As an inclusive, patient-centered, global biopharmaceutical company, we are committed to doing our part to help advance health equity and deliver innovative medicines that improve the health outcomes of medically underserved and increasingly diverse patient populations. We have been on a health equity journey for many years—continuously building on and expanding our tools to meaningfully tackle health inequities in the U.S. and worldwide.

In August 2020, we announced our $150 million investment over five years to address health disparities, increase clinical trial diversity, expand supplier diversity, increase workforce representation, and enhance employee giving in support of social justice organizations. We remain deeply committed to doing our part to help transform patients’ lives around the world.

BMS recently announced nearly $8 million in new health equity grants to 24 U.S. nonprofits focused on improving access to quality care for medically underserved communities, including the American Lung Association and Dia De La Mujer Latina which have a presence in San Diego, that work with community health workers and patient navigators to increase access among medically underserved patients and communities. The grants are intended to bolster community outreach and engagement, increase care coordination services and to ensure an ethnically diverse, culturally competent community health worker and patient navigator workforce. Grant recipients span across BMS’ therapeutic areas of focus—oncology, cardiology, immunology, and hematology—as well as health equity programs that serve a range of medically underserved patient populations, including Black and African American, Latino and Hispanic, AAPI, LGBTQIA+, and rural communities.

Tell us about BMS’ collaboration and partnership with San Diego Regional EDC.

Bristol Myers Squibb shares San Diego Regional EDC’s mission to invest in local life sciences organizations for the economic prosperity of the region. BMS appreciates the support and partnership of EDC to keep the organization and talent apprised of key economic developments in the region that allow BMS to remain an employer of choice. The team at EDC is collaborative and responsive to our evolving needs.

Looking ahead, what is on the horizon for BMS?

We’re looking forward to bringing together our four current San Diego sites into a single, newly constructed facility. Our vision is to continue to be a major research hub with incredible opportunities for scientific discovery throughout and following this transition.

Overall, it is an exciting time to be at BMS. In the year ahead, we are excited about the growth opportunities in our in-line brands and new product portfolio as well as our powerful innovation engine driving a broad early-stage pipeline. With more than 50 assets in our early-stage pipeline and the opportunity for more than 20 proof of concept decisions over the next three years, BMS is advancing one of the most exciting pipelines in the industry, amplified by our strong external partnerships.

Learn more: bms.com

Twitter: @bmsnews

Read more about EDC’s investors in our investor spotlight blog series. Or, join Bristol Myers Squibb by becoming a member of EDC.

Interested in publishing an investor spotlight? Contact our team:

Candela Delucchi
Candela Delucchi

Coordinator, Investor Relations & Marketing

Investor Spotlight: Curebound

As a nonprofit, San Diego Regional EDC is supported by investment from nearly 200 private organizations, companies, and public agencies. With their support, EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego, and leads initiatives to enhance the region’s recovery and resilience.

We sat down with EDC investor Anne Marbarger, CEO of Curebound, to discuss its mission to accelerate cures for cancer in our lifetime and realize a world without cancer from San Diego. Check it out!


Tell us about Curebound and its mission.

Launched in 2021, Curebound is an evolution and expansion of two highly respected cancer organizations, Padres Pedal the Cause and the Immunotherapy Foundation, which have come together to help create a robust, sustainable source of funding for cancer research and to broaden awareness, education, and outreach across San Diego. To date, we have donated $20 million to fund 78 innovative research projects, including six clinical trials.

Our mission is to mobilize San Diego to accelerate cures for cancer in our lifetime. To help realize our vision of a world without cancer, Curebound is committed to investing $100 million into collaborative cancer research over the next decade and making San Diego a global center of cancer research and cures.

Why San Diego?

Curebound is headquartered in San Diego amidst a unique combination of three National Cancer Institute cancer centers, clinical care hospitals, biotech companies, venture capital investors, philanthropic networks, and, most importantly, a regional culture that embraces the spirit of collaboration. This ecosystem positions San Diego and Curebound at the forefront of discovery—bringing genomic medicine, new technologies, and clinical trials to market and presents an unprecedented opportunity for research collaboration.

Curebound is a catalyst that brings these resources together to accelerate cures. We are proud to partner with the top cancer research institutions in San Diego, including Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, Rady Children’s Hospital, Salk Institute, Sanford Burnham Prebys, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, and Scripps Research. We see that San Diego has enormous potential to become a “cancer-curing city” and that the next decade will be critical in the development of sophisticated, personalized approaches in the way we prevent, treat, and ultimately find cures for cancer.

How can San Diegans get involved?

Padres Pedal the Cause is Curebound’s signature community event on April 9 at Petco Park. After two and a half years of virtual events due to the pandemic, we are excited to be back in person and look forward to celebrating with our cancer-fighting community of survivors, friends, families, doctors, scientists, and volunteers. One hundred percent of every dollar raised funds life-saving cancer research in San Diego.

The event features cycling courses for all abilities that ride out over the beautiful Coronado Bridge and finish at Petco Park, the option to run or walk a new and improved 5K through downtown San Diego, and a rooftop spin class atop the historic Western Metal Supply Co. building with fun, inspirational rides from some of San Diego’s most popular instructors.

This year, we are encouraging our local businesses to take part in our Corporate Challenge. The Corporate Challenge is an opportunity to come together as a company in support of family members and friends whose lives have been changed by cancer. It’s a great way to bring your workforce together with a positive focus on health and wellness, community engagement, and strong internal team building.

Tell us about your involvement with San Diego Regional EDC and its team.

Curebound is proud to invest in the fantastic work being done by EDC. We all feel very fortunate and appreciate the opportunity to partner with CEO Mark Cafferty and the EDC team, along with so many exceptional business leaders across San Diego.

EDC has done so much to advance and empower San Diego for many years and we believe Curebound aligns with EDC’s vision in many ways. For example, Advancing San Diego‘s collaborative effort to align economic development and workforce development around a common set of goals is truly impressive and speaks to the heart of our own core values of community, collaboration, and cures. Thank you all!

Looking ahead, what is on the horizon for your organization?

Our mission, vision, hope, and dream is to accelerate cures in our lifetime, so that the next generation doesn’t have to experience a cancer diagnosis in the frightening way that too many of us do now.  We will continue to increase and expand our outreach and opportunities for community engagement as we grow with new events and programs on the horizon. There is much in the works and we’re excited to share more in the coming months.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll join us for Padres Pedal the Cause in April and look for more information coming soon for our next series of events in honor of World Without Cancer Day on June 20.

Learn more: curebound.org

Twitter: @PedalSD

Read more about EDC’s investors in our investor spotlight blog series. Or, join Curebound by becoming a member of EDC.

Meet our Board: Chris Williams

Hear from EDC board member and Marsh & McLennan Agency CEO of the West Region Chris Williams on the importance of talent, collaboration, and resilience below.

Describe your “day job”?

As CEO of Marsh McLennan Agency’s (MMA) West Region, MMA’s largest region, I head up nine offices and 1,300 employees across California, Arizona, and Alaska. The beauty of my role is the number of areas of our business that I get to touch on a daily basis—whether it be working directly with clients, brainstorming and working with our HR team, or collaborating on special projects with colleagues across all of our departments. We have so many incredible people working at MMA… they are hardworking and passionate, and constantly come up with new ways to better our business and be there for our clients. I’m grateful that my position allows me to hear these ideas and help bring them to life. The days where I get to be face-to-face with colleagues, discussing their aspirations and ideas, are by far my favorite days on the job.

What is your life-changing moment—something that changed the trajectory of your life for the better?

In 1987, I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a B.S. in Economics. Shortly after, I began my insurance career with a large national healthcare organization in a sales role. In 1991, former MMA employee Jeff Calder attempted to recruit me to his brokerage firm. I have always prided myself on being a loyal employee, so I politely declined the promotion to a regional role with a large national carrier. Jeff did not give up easily as he was convinced that a new position with leadership opportunities at his firm was the right path for me. I remained in my current position until 1993, when I finally made the decision to take a leap of faith and accepted Jeff’s offer. Through a merger with Barney and Barney and being acquired by Marsh, I have now spent 28 years building my career with MMA. I am forever grateful to Jeff for his persistence, influence, and the impact MMA has had on my life.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

When I first moved to San Diego, as a newcomer to the region, I was eager to connect with and learn from local business leaders, civic leaders, and government leaders. Trindl Reeves, Chief Sales Officer at MMA, was on the board at EDC and encouraged me to get involved. After joining, I knew it was a great fit and perfect opportunity to become more ingrained within the community. EDC itself feels like a community. The group consists of so many amazing local leaders that have welcomed me to San Diego and inspired me to lead.

What EDC program or initiative interests you most, and why?

EDC’s talent development, attraction, and retention programs are by far the most helpful initiative right now. The current talent landscape is an incredibly competitive one, and MMA is growing rapidly year in and year out.

Our highest priority is bringing in talented, diverse people that want to stay with us. In order to achieve this, it’s crucial that we are constantly looking at ways to improve and evolve how we take care of our peoplewhether it be through our training programs, benefits offerings, company culture initiatives, or the way we find candidates in the first place.

Over the last year, our country and communities have simultaneously endured a pandemic, a social justice movement, and a time of hostile and divisive politics. What is your biggest lesson learned in the last year?

What a past year and a half it has been… By far, the biggest lesson I have learned is that society, and people, are so resilient. Every single one of us was affected by these worldwide crises, with the impact hitting seemingly overnight. I couldn’t believe the level of support, collaboration, and empathy we all showed to our fellow neighbors. It has been truly remarkable to witness and reminded me just how strong we can be when we work together.

Luckily, from a business standpoint, MMA was prepared and able to adapt incredibly fast to a virtual work environment. Many of our clients were hurting due to the shutdowns, and so many of our own people were personally affected. Yet, our colleagues powered through with such strength and worked hard to continue serving our clients and community. Everyone was apart, yet working together, in a way I had never seen before. This experience will leave a mark on me, for sure.

Favorite quote:

I learned from my Grandfather: Expectations only create disappointment. I taught my kids: Never bet on what you can’t control.

Follow along with Chris on LinkedIn.

Meet the rest of EDC’s board of directors

Meet our Board: Dr. Steven Jones

What do leaders at Qualcomm, SDG&E, and the NBA have in common? They’ve all made a commitment to have difficult conversations about how patterns of racial, gender, and other forms of biases are hijacking the potential of their workforce. That’s where JONES steps in. San Diego-based consulting firm JONES has helped create work environments for these companies, and many others, that bring out the best in people through leveraging trust, inclusion, and diversity for the past 25 years. Check out this spotlight with new EDC board member and JONES CEO Dr. Steven Jones to learn more about the firm’s leadership.

Describe your “day job”?

They say when you love what you do you never have to work a day in your life! Career counselors often advise others to identify their passion and turn it into a career. I have had the opportunity to live my passion every day and do what I love in my role as the CEO of JONES. JONES has recently been named one of the Top 10 Diversity and Inclusion Companies in the United States by Manage HR Magazine. For the past 25 years, I have been blessed to lead, learn from, and work with a phenomenal group of team members at JONES. Every day we help committed leaders at companies such as Toyota, Honda, Qualcomm, the NBA, SDG&E, Sony Music, Viacom CBS, SoCal Edison, Rady Children’s Hospital, the Getty, and many more, create work environments that bring out the best in people through leveraging trust, inclusion, and diversity for business success. Guiding culture change, providing executive coaching, conducting unconscious bias training, facilitating bilingual meetings, and supporting clients in having difficult conversations about how patterns of racial, gender, and other forms of biases are hijacking the potential of their workforce are daily menu items in life at JONES. As a CEO who is also a DEI Global Thought Leader and Organizational Psychologist, my ‘day job’ means guiding a team that helps companies unlock the people potential in their organizations.

What is your life-changing moment—something that changed the trajectory of your life for the better?

In the summer of 1987, I packed my Toyota Corolla with all my belongings, which included a suitcase, TV, and a boom box, and headed on a road trip from Louisiana to my new home in San Diego, CA. The destination was my first professional job as a Resident Director at Olmeca Hall on SDSU’s campus. I was to become the first African American/Black person to run a residence hall in the history of the university (a trail I would repeat blazing at the University of San Diego in 1990). In my second year at SDSU, my boss “voluntold” me that he and I were going to conduct a diversity training for 150 student leaders. I was pursuing a master’s degree in Computer Science at the time and had never conducted diversity training before, so I was confused by his request. Two weeks before the training, I learned he was leaving the university and insisted that I still conduct the training, but solo. I continue to be grateful for Dr. Jesus Nieto and Kasimu Harley, two social justice warriors on SDSU’s campus who helped me organize the agenda for the training. The experience was amazing. There were lots of insights gained, lessons learned, and skills practiced by student leaders. At that moment, I knew my life would never be the same.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

I have been impressed by the authentic leadership of Mark Cafferty and Janice Brown, along with San Diego Regional EDC’s commitment to economic inclusion. I was moved to join the EDC’s Board because of its work with the Brookings Institute, which identifies economic inclusion as “crucial” to San Diego’s success. The need for San Diego employers to act in a way that closes the minority-achievement gap, equips small businesses to compete, and to recruit/retain diverse talent in our community are personal passions of mine. JONES supports organizations large and small to become employers of choice—ones that recruit, select, develop, promote, and retain a diverse workforce who thrive. We are excited to join the impressive group of business and community leaders on EDC’s Board of Directors who are also committed to work environments where that diversity drives innovation through high levels of trust, psychological safety, equity, and belonging. With all of us working together, we can do this!

What EDC program or initiative interests you most, and why?

The need to enhance the San Diego community so it leads the world in creating an equitable and inclusive ecosystem that exists across our impressive corporate, small business, educational, military, tech, life sciences, hospitality, and other industries is very interesting to me. We have work to do to make “America’s Finest City” great for all its constituencies.

Over the last year, our country and communities have simultaneously endured a pandemic, a social justice movement, and a time of hostile and divisive politics. What is your biggest lesson learned in the last year?

One thing has been made abundantly clear to me: it is essential that each of us take collective action to keep one another safe. Each of us was challenged to reevaluate our individual and collective versions of normal. Every aspect of our lives shifted—how we worked, how classes were taught, whether we traveled, socialized, and the amount of time we spent with nuclear and extended family, etc. We understood that we needed collective action on a global scale to defeat COVID-19, a battle we are still fighting.

Simultaneously, the world moved into action to defeat our second global pandemic, Systemic Racism, which also continues today. Protests and marches were held around the globe to demand that we increase the lengths we are willing to go to keep each other, especially members of our BIPOC communities, safe and alive. We battled over “all lives matter” vs. “blue lives matter” vs. “black lives matter.” Many people realized how interconnected these three statements are while others refused to reexamine the history that impacts the deeply rooted inequities sustained in our present-day systems. Unless we find a way to come together, we will lose the fight against COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and all their variants… it is essential that each of us take collective action to keep one another safe.

Favorite quote:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Follow along with Dr. Jones on LinkedIn.

Meet the rest of EDC’s board of directors

Investor Spotlight: PCL Construction

San Diego Regional EDC is a 501c6 nonprofit organization supported by investment from nearly 200 companies, public agencies, and private organizations. EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego, and leads initiatives to enhance the region’s recovery and resilience. 

We sat down with new EDC investor Lucas Mallory, San Diego Area Manager at PCL Construction, to discuss the company’s culture, current projects, and why PCL loves the San Diego business community. Check it out!


Tell us about PCL Construction.

PCL is a group of independent construction companies that carries out work across Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and Australia. PCL is one of North America’s largest construction general contractors with diverse operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets.

PCL is 100 percent employee-owned. Tell us how your “culture of ownership” drives your success.

The value of employee ownership at PCL is that everyone has a stake in our collective success. We come to work each day knowing that we can choose to make a difference for our clients, our communities, and each other. This mindset promotes a culture of continuous improvement and provides opportunities to reap the rewards of ownership. Our culture also fosters a sense of responsibility to serve as employee, community, and industry advocates. As such, we invest in employee development, participate in activities that make a positive social impact, such as beach clean-ups and food drives, and ensure our people feel valued. We recognize that to be the best, diversity of thought, demographics, and status are critical components for strengthening our business. Initiatives that support these commitments aren’t for show. We truly believe in their importance. Building people, communities, and legacies are part of our core values.

Learn more about how employee ownership might be a good fit for your business here.

What is the office and job site culture like for employees?

Construction is a business full of excitement, challenges, and constant changes. We set up a working environment that encourages having fun. Whether cleaning beaches, exploring San Diego hiking trails, volunteering for food and blood drives, bringing in breakfast burritos from the Stars and Stripes Taco Shop on Miramar Road, or playing in a softball or soccer league (pictured right), the team likes spending time together. The mere fact that our PCLers softball team lost every one of their games this season, yet we still came back for more week after week, is a testament to the employee spirit at PCL in San Diego! And PCL Construction is currently hiring! Check out our open positions in San Diego.

Tell us more about the exciting projects you are currently developing in the region.

It’s an exciting time for PCL in San Diego! We have a diverse market focus with projects that are positively impacting the communities where we build. For instance, we have two design-build projects for the County of San Diego with the Southeastern Live Well Center and Lakeside Library. Both projects bring very meaningful services to the local community that make our job as builders a bit more impactful. The Southeastern Live Well Center also includes a significant cost commitment to the local community through specific zip code subcontracting and workforce opportunities. Its a vehicle for economic growth in the region with impacts beyond just this project.

We are also very active in the bluetech industry space, which is very unique for the San Diego region. We’re currently leading the Marine Conservation and Technology Facility for the UCSD Scripps Institute of Oceanography along with a private seafood biosciences facility. Each provide applied research and education to pave the way for a greater understanding of how to protect marine ecosystems and coastal environments in San Diego and throughout the world. San Diego Area Manager Lucas Mallory and two team members are pictured at the Marine Conservation and Technology Facility above.

Seismic upgrade projects are also in full swing at UCSD and strengthen the very buildings where we work. Between these and other projects, we are proud to be fostering the future and sustainability of the region. They are providing value well beyond construction.

What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?

San Diego offers a business community that works collaboratively and strives to put the best parts and pieces together. Our business community connects people who only want the best for San Diego. While we compete against many other qualified contractors, we also partner with them to find ways to bring forward the best products and practices. Having been in the San Diego market for over 16 years, PCL has facilitated strong and lasting relationships with our subtrade and architect partners. These relationships are truly where the magic happens—where everyone is predisposed to welcome new ideas and innovations. I am proud to live in such a wonderful place where people consistently raise the bar for the industry.

Learn more: pcl.com

Twitter: @PCL_USA

Read more about EDC’s investors in our investor spotlight blog series. Or, join PCL by becoming a member of EDC.

Meet our Board: Zach Hammond

What does it take to move cross-country for your job? So you packed your home and family and moved from one coast to the other. Sunsets instead of sunrises, warm weather year-round instead of snow days, trips to the “beach” instead of to the “shore.” Now what? Some might say it takes moving to a place you truly believe in. We got the chance to chat with a board member about just that. Check out this board spotlight with Suffolk’s San Diego General Manager, Zach Hammond.

Describe your “day job”?

I often say, “Suffolk doesn’t build buildings, we build people.” As the General Manager of Suffolk San Diego, one of my most important responsibilities is recruiting and retaining the very best talent in the construction industry so we can provide exceptional client service on our projects. I take pride in my responsibility to provide our people the strong vision and leadership necessary for them to build long-term careers at our organization and “prove impossible wrong” on our sophisticated building construction projects in San Diego.

What is your life-changing moment—something that changed the trajectory of your life for the better?

I have had the benefit of many personal and professional life-changing moments. From a career standpoint, joining the Suffolk family nearly 14 years ago certainly changed the trajectory of my professional life because of the many growth opportunities this organization has offered me. One of those opportunities includes my move from Boston to San Diego to lead this incredible team of curious, innovative, and passionate construction professionals. Managing this team and our Suffolk operations in San Diego has been one of the greatest and most transformative experiences of my life and has been a game changer for my family and me. When I was offered the opportunity, I jumped at the chance. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with this place. San Diego is one of the most beautiful places in the country, if not the world, with friendly, community-driven people who are passionate about their region. I also view San Diego as a place of great opportunity for my company and me. San Diego is a dynamic and evolving city with huge potential for economic and developmental growth. I believe San Diego has an incredibly bright future, and I am very excited to be a part of it.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

Suffolk has been a strong community partner in San Diego for many years, and there are many exciting organizations that have made unique and indelible marks on this community. We chose to partner with EDC because if provides us opportunities to lend our voice and dedicate resources toward programs, causes and initiatives that are important to us, including the advancement of an inclusive economic development strategy to help elevate San Diego’s competitive positioning for investment and talent. We believe a rising tide should lift all boats. Our partnership with EDC is important because it is an organization that shares our values and vision for the future of this community.

Favorite quote:

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit.” – Harry Truman

What EDC program or initiative interests you most, and why?

EDC offers San Diego business leaders so many opportunities to collaborate and make a positive impact on the future of the region.  Suffolk leans into the chance to contribute to the region’s economic growth and development. To be an important player in this community, leaders and organizations must have an in-depth understanding of the unique needs of San Diego. EDC provides an opportunity to listen closely to other key community and business leaders from different sectors, learn from them, and gain a better understanding of how we can partner with them so that together we can create a strong and sustainable San Diego for today and the future.

Over the last year, our country and communities have simultaneously endured a pandemic, a social justice movement, and a time of hostile and divisive politics. What is your biggest lesson learned in the last year?

We are all in this together. We must remember so many of us share the same values. We must take care of each other. People above all.