Leadership trip to Atlanta inspires new approaches to inclusion

As a way to inspire new approaches to inclusive economic development, EDC organizes an annual leadership trip with its partners and stakeholders in a peer region facing similar challenges. This year, EDC led a delegation of more than 40 San Diegans to Atlanta, Georgia – a city with deep cultural and historical significance. After three full days of dialogue with some of Atlanta’s most progressive and impactful leaders, our group came home with three main takeaways.

1. The decisions we make today will have lasting impacts on future generations.
We started off the leadership trip the way EDC approaches everything we do: with research. We learned how Atlanta’s history of racial inequity directly impacted the way the city was developed. It affected where public transportation would run, where good schools were built, who received loans to buy a house or start new businesses, and much more. Rohit Malhotra of Center of Civic Innovation stated, “96% of people born poor in Atlanta will die poor in Atlanta.” The disparities facing Atlantans today are deeply rooted in the region’s history. And because it’s leaders are willing to take a honest look at that history, that they are able to bring about lasting change. This inspired thoughtful discussion on how San Diego’s own history has shaped the way our communities live today, and will hopefully lead to further investigation into our region’s past, so that we can create sustainable solutions for our future.

2. Transportation can either exacerbate or alleviate existing problems.
Perhaps the biggest historic factor inhibiting Atlantan’s economic prosperity is access to transportation.  Because the city was designed to separate black and white populations, many low-income areas of the region simply do not have access to good jobs and affordable housing. In reference to predicting economic and health outcomes for Atlantans, Carol Naughton of Purpose Built Communities shared that “zip code impacts more than genetic code.” To combat this, organizations like Purpose Built Communities, TransFormation Alliance, and Historic District Development Corporation formed and work together to create an infrastructure that will support healthy, sustainable, and affordable communities. Thanks to their support and a transformational vision for redevelopment by Ryan Gravel, the Atlanta BeltLine was created to connect disparate neighborhoods and is drastically changing the way people live. That kind of positive peer pressure is what is bringing about change unlike anything the city of Atlanta has ever seen before. People who were previously displaced from quality jobs and access to transportation can now walk or bike to the grocery store to buy healthy food for their families. They can walk to a quality job that pays enough to support themselves. The thoughtful collaboration between these entities shows us that this level of systems change is, in fact, possible when organizations work together to take action.

3. It’s critical for younger generations to see themselves in leadership roles.
Inside the historic International Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel at Morehouse College, we heard about the importance of talent development investments from members of the Atlanta University Center Consortium. As Spellman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell eloquently said, “when students are affirmed, they do better.” Organizations like Cristo Rey Atlanta High School, a private school for underserved students who don’t pay tuition, help students and their families with hands-on college preparation, like the college application process. Interim President Camille Naughton said, “It’s barriers like filling out a FAFSA application that keeps students out of college – not intellect or lack of desire.” Clearly, the education systems in Atlanta understand that a bright future in Atlanta largely depends on significant investment in its students today. We also heard from Brookings Institution Fellow Rodney Sampson, who co-founded the Opportunity Hub (OHUBS) to eliminate barriers for minority tech founders. Rodney believes that building an inclusive economic ecosystem starts with early exposure to innovation and socialization. He said, “When you’re exposed to innovative ecosystems, the trajectory of your ability to acquire wealth changes.” Through organizations like these, students and young entrepreneurs see that they’re worth investing in. They see themselves as a leader, who can take action and make an impact.

From hearing about innovative talent development strategies and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems at Morehouse College, to walking along the Atlanta BeltLine that is radically changing the connectivity of Atlantas’s neighborhoods, our group gained invaluable insights that spurred thoughtful conversations about creating a better San Diego that works for all. The transformation in Atlanta was palpable. After immersing ourselves in its rich history and hearing first-hand experiences from Atlanta’s civic, education, and business leaders, one thing is clear: our inclusive growth work in San Diego is far from over, but we’re on the right path.

Atlanta Group

This trip was made possible through generous support from Southwest Airlines and Cox Communications.

To learn more about EDC’s Inclusive Growth effort, visit inclusiveSD.org or follow along on social media at #inclusiveSD.

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 Innovate78.com.

San Diego launches new initiative to look inward to address regional talent shortages

Advancing San Diego

In an effort to provide residents with increased access to high-demand jobs, San Diego Regional EDC launched Advancing San Diego, a $3 million local investment initiative underwritten by JPMorgan Chase that will align industries with economic development, workforce development and education systems.

“Talented and skilled workers are integral for a strong economy,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO at San Diego Regional EDC. “With and through our program partners and stakeholders, we are establishing a first-of-its-kind, employer-led initiative that will measure and aggregate workforce needs while also indentifying solutions that align and strengthen our local education systems. We need to ensure that the benefits of our region’s growing innovation economy are reaching all San Diegans.

Advancing San Diego will establish nine working groups that are designed to give employers a collective voice about talent needs in priority industries, ranging from software and technology to marketing, healthcare and more. In the first report, 17 participating employers expressed a projected need for more than 7,200 additional software-related positions over the next three years.

The Advancing San Diego initiative
In April 2019, San Diego was one of five cities to receive a $3 million investment as part of JPMorgan Chase’s AdvancingCities Challenge, an initiative to drive inclusive growth and create greater economic opportunity across the U.S. Advancing San Diego is a collaborative program by San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the City of San Diego, San Diego Workforce Partnership, United Way of San Diego, and San Diego & Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA).

As San Diego’s economy continues to expand, employers are seeing an increased demand for skilled workers. While San Diego strives to attract and retain talent, it must also look inward to build a workforce that meets demands for current and future jobs. EDC and its Inclusive Growth Steering Committee of 40 employers have endorsed a regional goal to double the number of skilled workers produced in San Diego County to 20,000 per year by 2030. This requires strong, effective learning programs offered by community colleges and other education institutions.

The goals of Advancing San Diego are to:

  • Engage employers in a structured process to collectively communicate talent needs
  • Identify education programs that are aligned with industry needs
  • Increase the pool of diverse, skilled talent in San Diego
  • Expand access to talent pipelines for small companies

“By 2020, nearly two of every three jobs in the U.S. will require a credential or degree, and currently, 90 percent of our students remain in San Diego after graduation,” said Dr. Sunita “Sunny” Cooke, superintendent & president at MiraCosta Community College District. “Community colleges play a critical role in creating a diverse talent pipeline for the region. The Advancing San Diego program willhelp connect the work occurring within local community colleges to ensure we offer innovative curricula that support employer needs and include opportunities for students to apply their learning in workplace settings so graduates are ready for employment.”

Education systems that are aligned with results set forth by the working groups will be listed as ‘preferred providers’ by Advancing San Diego. This designation rewards higher education students with priority access to work-based learning and engagement opportunities via networking events, career and internship fairs, and local company tours. To learn more and become a ‘preferred provider,’ educators are encouraged to apply at advancingSD.org.

Additionally, businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98 percent of San Diego firms, and on average, are challenged to compete with larger employer wages. As part of EDC’s inclusive growth strategy, more than 35 employers (and counting) have endorsed a regional goal to create 50,000 new quality jobs within small businesses by 2030. To further engage small businesses, nearly half of the funding for Advancing San Diego will be used to subsidize internships within small businesses and offer additional services that support student success in the workplace.

“Start-ups like LunaPBC are rich with mission, purpose, and the opportunity for personal and professional growth,” said Dawn Barry, co-founder & president at LunaPBC. “Unlike large employers, startups are often lower on salary, but offer exciting equity and the opportunity to experience first-hand what it’s like to build an enterprise. When large employers work together with smaller employers, and pursue partnerships with incubators and accelerators, higher education and regional development teams, we strengthen our collective visiblity as a region for career development.”

Report: Demand for Software Talent and Criteria for ‘Preferred Providers’
Working group members were asked to provide hiring projections along with skills and competency requirements for critical jobs, in order to identify programs that align with industry needs. Collectively, these results were compiled into the Demand for Software Talent Report and will create a criteria for ‘preferred providers’ of software – a designation by employers that demonstrates an education program is providing adequate training for software engineers.

Companies that contributed to this report represent industries with the highest proportion of software talent in San Diego, including tech, life sciences, healthcare and defense. Based on the participation of 17 employers who collectively employ approximately 53,000 people and share a need for software talent, this report indicates the working group is projected to hire more than 7,220 additional software professionals over three years.

Additional key findings include:

  • Software engineers accounted for the highest future hiring demand among all software occupations in working group companies, making up 53 percent of total projections
  • Entry-level software engineers represent the highest hiring need of any position at any level
  • Collectively, the working group projects they will hire more than 1,700 entry-level software engineers over the next three years
  • Approximately 44 percent of working group employers require a bachelors degree for entry-level software engineers

Through the Advancing San Diego collaboration, San Diego strives to cultivate a more inclusive economy, as this initiative will look inward to address regional talent shortages and strengthen the relationship between employers and education systems.

For more information about the new Advancing San Diego initiative, future working groups, or to be listed as a ‘preferred provider, visit advancingSD.org. Follow along and join the conversation at #advancingSD.

View the full interactive web report—“San Diego’s Demand for Software Talent Report”—here.

**Read the full press release here.**