Blue Sky Network wins $25K MetroConnect V export grand prize

World Trade Center San Diego and nearly 250 voting audience award $25K for international expansion

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) named Blue Sky Network, which provides satellite-based communications and fleet management solutions for aviation, maritime, and IoT customers, as the winner of the MetroConnect export accelerator program, now in its fifth year. Made possible through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Procopio, Blue Sky Network will use the $25,000 award to expand its presence in Brazil and promote the launch of its new SkyLink product in global markets.

“Blue Sky Network is the perfect reflection of San Diego’s innovation economy coming together, leveraging our excellence in defense and technology now on an international stage,” said Lucas Coleman, senior manager at WTCSD. “The results from MetroConnect’s fifth cohort are impressive. Whether it’s alleviating supply chain processes in Australia or cultivating leads in Korea, Brazil and the UK amid incredible economic uncertainty, working to connect small and medium-sized businesses to international markets builds greater resilience here at home.”

Blue Sky Network beat out three other finalists in MetroConnect V: White Labs, Inc., SIDUS Solutions, and Mayan Robotics. The grand prize-winning company was decided by a 250-person voting audience via virtual events platform Whova, a former MetroConnect participant. Prior to this, a committee of senior international business leaders in San Diego helped the WTCSD team nominate these top four performers out of the initial 15-company cohort.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

In its first five years, MetroConnect has helped 80 local, small and mid-sized businesses generate a net increase of $95 million in international sales, 543 international contracts, and 22 overseas facilities. This international growth has coincided with 269 new hires here in the San Diego region.

Each cohort year, WTCSD selects 15 export-ready small and mid-sized businesses to receive $5,000 export grants, access to executive workshops, translation software, discounted international airfare, and a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize to aid in further international market expansion. Applications for year six of the MetroConnect program are now open through December 17. Interested small- and medium-sized companies that are looking to pursue international sales as a near-term priority or already exporting its goods or services may apply here.

Apply by Dec 17

GLOBAL CONNECTION TO BOOST RESILIENCE

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the national rhetoric around global trade has shifted. According to The World Bank, countries that trade internationally enjoy more economic growth, are more innovative and productive, and can provide more opportunities to citizens. San Diego is no exception—regional small businesses that export tend to have a larger and more diversified customer base, pick up best practices from global competitors, build up economies of scale, and ultimately pay their employees more. Access to international customers and markets is essential in helping San Diego’s business community recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, as small businesses employ 60 percent of San Diegans.

“We’ve successfully navigated an incredibly challenging global environment over the past year and a half and the MetroConnect program has helped exceed our international sales targets,” said Gregoire Demory, president at Blue Sky Network, MetroConnect V grand prize winner. “We look forward to using MetroConnect’s additional funding to keep promoting the Blue Sky Network brand and our new SkyLink product overseas.”

“Since 2015, JPMorgan Chase has been proud to support MetroConnect, helping San Diego businesses successfully navigate complex global markets and create new local opportunities,” said Aaron Ryan, Executive Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase. “San Diego is one of the best places for innovation, and we are excited to help these businesses maximize our region’s international potential.”

WTCSD hosted its MetroConnect Grand Prize PitchFest virtually on November 15, with keynote remarks by MetroConnect underwriters Dennis Doucette, Partner at Procopio, and Aaron Ryan, Executive Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase.

READY TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS GLOBAL?

WTCSD has year-round, non-exclusive international opportunities that help companies break expand internationally, such as the Export Specialty SBDC and strategy for global engagement. To learn about more WTCSD initiatives, events, and programs, visit WTCSD.org.

And the MetroConnect V finalists are…

WTC San Diego is proud to announce the four finalists of MetroConnect V, San Diego’s premier export assistance program, presented by JPMorgan Chase and Procopio. These four diverse companies will compete for an additional $25,000 in funding towards their international expansion strategies during our virtual Grand Prize PitchFest on November 15, 2021.

The catch? They’re looking to you to judge and award the extra cash. Read more and register here to cast your vote.

Meet the MetroConnect V finalists:

  • Blue Sky Network | a seamless connectivity, satellite tracking, intelligent fleet management, and text and voice communications product provider.
  • Mayan Robotics | a manufacturer of essential electronic systems for unmanned vehicles and drones.
  • SIDUS Solutions | a provider of underwater positioners, high-definition cameras, penetrating bright lights, projection lasers, and inspection systems that improve safety, efficiency, and ease of operation in challenging environments.
  • White Labs | a developer of liquid yeast, fermentation products, services, analysis, and education to craft brewing professionals and enthusiasts.

Join us on November 15 to meet the finalists…and choose the winner!

Register NOW


Plus: Is your company ready to go global? Apply to be part of our next MetroConnect cohort:

Entering its sixth year, WTCSD will select 15 small businesses that:

  • Are headquartered in San Diego
  • Are export-ready (you are already exporting goods or services, or are looking to pursue international sales as a near-term priority)
  • Have been in business for at least one year
  • Are an SBA-designated small business
to participate in MetroConnect VI and receive:
  • A $5,000 export assistance grant
  • Executive export workshops
  • Complimentary access to SystranPRO machine translation software
  • Discounts on international travel with partner airlines
and more!

Meet our Advancing San Diego Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent

Meet the Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent.

Fueled by Tech, Defense, and Life Science industries, 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 challenge–98 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 in Healthcare, 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 seven employers to develop a skills-based criteria for medical 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 medical assistants.

EDC is excited to announce Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent:

How small companies can get involved:

Advancing San Diego will cover the cost of internships for 30 students, sourced from the above Preferred Provider, at small clinics, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities in the region. Selected interns will be paid and have access to additional funds to support their success in the workplace. All students from Preferred Provider programs will be invited to participate in industry engagement opportunities such as career fairs and networking events. Healthcare internships will begin in early 2022.

How education programs can get involved:

Advancing San Diego will continue to designate Preferred Providers in a variety of high-demand fields. Preferred Provider criteria and applications are updated and reviewed on an annual basis. The Preferred Provider application schedule is as follows:

  • SOFTWARE: Revisited Spring 2021
  • ENGINEERING: Closed Summer 2020
  • BUSINESS: Closed Winter 2020
  • MANUFACTURING: Closed Spring 2021
  • HEALTHCARE: Closed Summer 2021 (announcement above)
  • LIFE SCIENCES: Upcoming Winter 2021

For more information, visit AdvancingSD.org.

Young Professional Spotlight: Alyssa Snow

Alyssa Snow, a CSU San Marcos and Link to San Diego alumna, is a cybersecurity professional currently working for Teradata. She has participated in two of EDC’s Advancing San Diego industry engagement events in 2021—most recently for a Women in STEM career panel. For Alyssa, participating in these events is meaningful because she remembers how it felt to sit on the opposite end of the room only a few years back, and finding her career path through EDC’s Link to San Diego event.

Read more about Alyssa’s experience below.

How did Link to San Diego launch your career?

In my third year of college at CSU San Marcos in 2018, I attended EDC’s “Link to San Diego: Cybersecurity” career panel and industry engagement event. This event propelled my career in cybersecurity. During the event, one panelist shared what it was like to work as a security engineer, which inspired me to learn more.

I approached the panelist, a representative from Teradata, and asked him how relevant specific projects of mine may be to practical security experience. After the event, I continued to keep in touch with the professional via LinkedIn and email. He sent me various links to resources that introduced security topics that I was interested in learning more about. Eventually, this individual introduced me to a few other employees from Teradata.

I will never forget this day. It meant so much to me that six security professionals took the time to have lunch with me a few weeks after the event and answer some questions regarding what it is like to work in the industry. By the end of the lunch, the Application Security team director asked me for my resume. He informed me that there were no internship opportunities for the security organization at that time, however, he would like to reach out if one were to become available.

Just a month after this lunch, a recruiter reached out to me and asked me if I would like to interview for an open internship position on that very team. I became one of the first-ever interns in the security organization at Teradata. I interned with the Application Security team for a year and a quarter, and was responsible for delivering automated solutions to scale product security across the organization. It was a remarkable experience that gave me direction in my career path.

Where are you now?

I now work at Teradata’s San Diego office as a full-time offensive security engineer. My team and I use adversary perspectives to help Teradata evaluate risks and identify process gaps to help improve the organization’s security posture. I love working in this industry because I am constantly facing new challenges that require creative solutions. I would not have had this experience if I had not attended “Link to San Diego: Cybersecurity” in 2018.


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

Apply by January 25: California Competes Tax Credit

Any business that is growing in the state of California over the next five years, or is considering leaving California, is encouraged to apply for a California Competes Tax Credit to offset its state income tax liability.

Awards are primarily based on the following factors:

  • Number of jobs created or retained in California
  • Capital investments in California over the next 5 years
  • Overall economic benefit to the state and its people
  • Flight risk; commitment to remaining in California

For more information on eligibility, visit the State website or EDC’s informational brochure, and apply by January 25.

Get help applying

Learn about the application process via California GO-Biz’s on-demand webinars:

  • January 14, 4:00–5:00 p.m. PST | Register
  • January 19, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. PST | Register

Plus, reach out to EDC’s expert team for assistance. We’ll help your company apply to the California Competes Tax Credit, find COVID-19 relief programs, and more, at no charge.

Request EDC assistance

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7 COVID-19 resources for small businesses – January 2021

With new federal and state legislation enacted over the holidays, it can be challenging to sift through what’s available for businesses. Below, EDC has outlined seven new and ongoing support/resources available as businesses navigate impacts of COVID-19.

1. COVID Relief Grant Program

The State of California launched a $500 million COVID Relief Grant Program for small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic and accompanying safety restrictions. Eligible underserved small businesses and nonprofits may apply for up to $25,000 in grant funds. Apply by Wednesday, January 13.

Please note: Applications are not first-come, first-served. Take the time to ensure your application is accurate via San Diego and Imperial SBDC Network‘s on-demand webinars (in English and Spanish).

2. Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

The EIDL grant program has reopened applications for grants up to $10,000. Businesses that did not previously receive the grant can apply, with priority given to small businesses with less than 300 employees, located in low-income neighborhoods, and that have experienced a 30 percent reduction in gross receipts. Apply now.

3. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Companies with fewer than 300 employees that have experienced a greater than 25 percent reduction in gross receipts will soon be able to apply for a second PPP loan, with priority given to hardest-hit industries. Companies may receive both a PPP loan and EIDL loan without compromising PPP forgiveness. PPP loans are nontaxable and will be forgivable if used for appropriate expenses. For more information, visit the SBA website.

4. San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Grant

Small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 100 employees may apply to receive grant funding. Final awards will be made by individual district offices based on availability of funds, program guidelines, and the submission of all required information. Apply now.

5. Employee Retention Tax Credit

Companies may now receive a credit against employment taxes for up to 70 percent on $10,000 in wages per quarter (or a maximum $14,000 per employee through June 30). Employers that experienced a decline of more than 20 percent in gross receipts may apply. For more information, visit the IRS website.

6. Employee Training Panel COVID-19 Pilot Program

Manufacturers in select industry sectors including food and medical manufacturing may receive assistance for training new and rehired employees. The program provides a training off-set for as little as four hours of training per new or rehired employee earning at least $17.50 per hour. For more information, visit the State website.

7. California Competes Tax Credit

Companies of any industry, size, or location may apply for part of $180 million available in tax credits to relocate or stay and grow in California. For more information on eligibility and assistance, visit the State website or apply by January 25.

EDC is here to help. Request our help finding information, applying to these relief programs, and more, at no charge.

Request EDC assistance

 

For more COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please visit this page.

 

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Integration Pilot Program: San Diego’s foundation for emerging aviation technology

In 2017, the United Stated Department of Transportation, which oversees of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), launched the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) to build pathways that would encourage the expansion of the commercial unmanned aerial systems industry safely and cohesively with existing piloted aircrafts.

Capitalizing on San Diego’s rich aerospace history, industry relationships, and unique operational environment, EDC partnered with the City of San Diego’s Office of Homeland Security to become one of only 10 jurisdictions across the United States to participate.

Over the past three years, San Diego IPP has laid the groundwork for regional companies of all sizes to develop cutting-edge UAS technology here in San Diego by utilizing the streamlined FAA approval process, supporting homegrown talent, and positioning the region as a UAS center of excellence by encouraging the industry’s growth.

As we wrap up the program, below are a few of the key successes:

Public Safety

The challenge:
Chula Vista Police Department is largely understaffed—yet as the second largest city in San Diego County, it has been recognized at the tenth safest city in the United States with jurisdictions of more than 270,000 residents.

The solution:
In coordination with the San Diego IPP, Chula Vista Police Department became the first in the nation to utilize drones as a proactive public safety tool. The department saw drones as a new opportunity to create a Drone as a First Responder (DFR) unit as a safer, less expensive alternative to helicopter and officer units.

San Diego IPP helped Chula Vista Police Department obtain a FAA permissions and waivers to provide safe, transparent jurisdictional coverage. Ultimately, Chula Vista Police Department was able to dispatch UAS to remotely assess the scene of emergency calls for service.

The results:
Together, San Diego IPP and Chula Vista Police Department achieved great heights:

  • First public safety organization in the nation to be granted a Beyond Visual Line of Sight Certificate of Authorization.
  • First in the nation to achieve a Tactical Beyond Visual Line of Sight (“Close Proximity, Low Altitude”) Waiver. This enables police officers on scene to utilize small UAS to search behind obstacles, at a very low altitude to ensure safety for the officers, suspect, and potential bystanders.
  • First in the nation to achieve 2-to-1 Operations and is pending 100 percent jurisdictional coverage for a Public Aircraft Operator Certificate of Authorization. This enables the Remote Pilot in Command (the operator) to operate two drones at one time, an operation that required an entirely new FAA process to be created, and ultimately expanded service coverage for all residents in the City of Chula Vista.
  • Safe information dissemination to at-risk populations for COVID-19 response.
  • Statewide, nationwide, and international acclaim for public safety and innovation. San Diego IPP and Chula Vista Police Department received the 2020 AUVSI XCELLENCE Humanitarian and Public Safety Award, the 2019 California Police Chief’s Association Innovation Award, and were highlighted in UAS Norway, Chicago Tribune, Police Chief Magazine, Interdrone, Department of Justice’s DRONES publication, and more.

To date, DFR has responded to 4,303 calls, assisted in the arrest of 558 suspects, was the first to arrive on scene 1,987 times, and has an average response time of 224.49 seconds.

Notably, in 1,065 instances, DFR has been able to avoid dispatching officer patrol units on scene—freeing those resources for other service calls and mitigating potential officer-involved confrontations.

COMPLEX AND CRITICAL Delivery

Despite airspace complexities and difficult operating environments, San Diego IPP leapt at the prospect to test the viability of both commercial food and medical specimen delivery within our region. San Diego IPP partnered with Uber, Matternet, and UPS Flight Forward to accomplish cutting-edge, time-sensitive deliveries in San Diego.

Food Delivery

The challenge:
On the heels of a white paper on the future of urban air transportation, Uber Elevate was born. To bring its vision to fruition, Elevate determined a need for a multi-pronged effort at advancing Urban Air Mobility (UAM) efforts nationwide, but needed help obtaining permission for and conducting safe delivery testing.

The solution:
Through a series of tests and strategic public-private partnerships, IPP helped the company take the first step toward urban air transportation.

San Diego IPP matured Uber Elevate’s initial business model past short-distance flights at San Diego State University to focus on a more complex delivery route from coastal Chula Vista to the Coronado Cays. San Diego IPP and Uber Elevate worked with local public and private partners for three months to coordinate efforts for a single week of safe delivery testing and an official Part 107 Commercial Food Delivery in December 2019.

Initially focused on food delivery convenience for the end user, San Diego IPP and Uber Elevate ultimately found an opportunity to expand areas of service for regional small businesses and provide options for communities without equal access to food delivery.

The results:
Through this effort, San Diego IPP achieved:

  • The first real time Remote Identification test in the country. Remote Identification allows interested parties to utilize an application that enables the individual(s) watching to identify the drone operator and follow the drones path in real time.
  • Strategic public-private partnerships. To achieve one week of operations, San Diego IPP coordinated efforts with Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Navy – North Island Naval Air Station, and the local field office at Customs and Border Protection to mandate a minimum altitude to avoid conflicts with existing aviators. Additionally, San Diego IPP worked with the Port of San Diego to create new land use agreements for take-off and landing zones in undeveloped areas along the San Diego Bay for the week of operations. Finally, the Cities of Chula Vista and Coronado both engaged in testing planning efforts and advocacy. The first official Part 107 Delivery was made to Coronado City Council Member, Bill Sandke.
  • Innovative safety process formation. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees two sanctuaries adjacent to the route, worked with the San Diego IPP team to create solutions to addresses the safe operations of UAS in, near, and around animal sanctuaries, in coordination with FAA and the Department of the Interior legal counsels.

Medical Specimen Delivery

The challenge:
With San Diego’s globally recognized expertise and innovation in life sciences, medical specimen delivery was a particularly important goal. With the ability to delivers medical specimens via UAS, San Diego healthcare providers could improve delivery speed and reliability, and ultimately cut costs and improve care. However, Matternet needed help obtaining waivers for night operations and flights over people to support its tests.

The solution:
After extensive groundwork, San Diego IPP helped Matternet obtain accommodations for proof-of-concept flights at UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center, including a §107.39 waiver enabling operations over people and a §107.29 waiver enabling operations at night. Matternet and UPS Flight Forward were operable and making vertical moves in San Diego by early 2020.

The results:
San Diego IPP, with Matternet and UPS Flight Forward, accomplished:

  • 259 successful flight operations at the UC San Diego Health Jacobs Medical Center.
  • Two separate route approvals on the UCSD Health Jacobs Medical Center Campus.

Next Steps

After three years of aiding in the development and growth of an emerging innovation industry, San Diego IPP will not be moving forward with the FAA’s next step, BEYOND.

EDC will continue to work to ensure San Diego remains a welcome space to research, design, develop, test, and advocate for the drone community, and will continue to provide exemplary service for any UAS business interested in expanding their business or concepts in our region.

Finally, we are excited to continue working with our regional leaders to ensure that we support opportunities that advance this emerging industry, as innovation is the cornerstone to our region.

Integration Pilot Program: San Diego’s foundation for emerging aviation technology
Integration Pilot Program: San Diego’s foundation for emerging aviation technology

 

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The next normal: emerging trends in commercial real estate and the future of the Midway District

Over the last several months, the economic development team has kept a close pulse on the businesses that make up our regional economy – and EDC’s economic development committee has always pivoted to support, by addressing current challenges and changes to our economy.

Where every recovery before this one has widened inequality, EDC is committed to making sure we get this recovery right. During this pivotal moment, through the perspectives of a variety of businesses and stakeholders, the committee is focused on highlighting economic development solutions and charting the path to an inclusive resilient recovery. As we collectively turn to rebuilding our economy, it has never been more important to do so thoughtfully and holistically, with equity as a lens and skilled workers, quality jobs, and thriving households as the core building blocks.

This past September, the committee discussed emerging trends in commercial real estate and the redevelopment of the Midway District.

The Good, The Bad, and The Uncertain

Our discussion began with an informative commercial real estate market update presented by Tom Turner, vice president at CBRE. Tom highlighted emerging industry trends across the San Diego market focusing on potential growth, and concentration of key employees.

Tom noted that major key tenants that are continuing to hire based on advancements of new technologies specifically related to 5G and artificial intelligence, and that tech companies are continuing to support our local industry growth. Also contributing to the potential for regional economic growth are major redevelopment projects underway, specifically around NAVWAR and the Midway District Community Plan.

Opportunities in San Diego’s Midway District

With the timely announcement surrounding the City of San Diego’s selection of the winning development bid for the Sports Arena and Midway district, the committee hosted a panel discussion with regional leaders on future plans for the community and what it will mean for transit, housing and job opportunities.

Dike Anyiwo moderated this discussion. A policy adviser at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce & vice chair of the Midway Pacific Highway Community Planning Group, Anyiwo focused on equitable development for small businesses and how to align the community with future development plans.

Zach Adams, vice president of development at Brookfield Properties, presented on his company’s winning bid and the vision to establish new parks, bring new opportunities for businesses, and offer affordable housing in San Diego’s Midway District.

NAVWAR Executive Director John Pope emphasized the importance of the Navy Old Town Campus Revitalization Project to NAVWAR’s high-tech mission and rapidly growing cyber and information warfare requirements. For NAVWAR, this would be a transformative opportunity to retain thousands of mission-driven tech jobs in the region.

Finally, Hasan Ikhrata, executive director at SANDAG, provided additional details on regional transit development and future goals in the Midway community to greater align opportunities for talent access in San Diego.

Looking ahead

In the months ahead, EDC’s economic development committee will work to highlight recovery-driven economic development solutions, focused on skilled talent, quality jobs, and thriving households.

Please contact Ashley Swartout to share thoughts on future committee topics or ways your organization can support the committee goals.

For more information on the Midway projects, please see the following links:

Please visit Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) for information on the Navy Old Town Campus (OTC) project.

Please visit San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) for alternatives and planning processes.

Learn more about SANDAG’s New Transportation Vision in 5 Big Moves.

Get information on the City of San Diego’s current Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan.

Visit this page for Brookfield & ASM Global’s Midway winning bid.

What you need to know about reopening your small business – September 2020

The state of California has established a four tier system for reopening nonessential business sectors. Businesses listed in Tier 2, including hair salons, places of worship, gyms, and restaurants, may reopen modified indoor operations that ensure employee and customer health and safety.

What you need to know

In addition to the information laid out in prior public health orders, new updates came into effect on September 1.

Hair Salons, Barbershops, Nail Salons, and Personal Care Services

  • Must require all customers receiving service indoors or using indoor facilities to sign in with their name and phone number

Places of Worship

  • Max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • May host religious, cultural, and wedding ceremonies indoors with modifications and in compliance with state guidance

Gyms and Fitness Centers

  • Max 10% capacity
  • Must require all customers receiving service indoors or using indoor facilities to sign in with their name and phone number

Restaurants, Wineries, Bars, Breweries, and Distilleries
(where meal is provided)

  • Max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Must require all guests receiving service indoors or using indoor facilities to sign in with their name and phone number
  • Must maintain the list of names and phone numbers for three weeks
  • Must require guests to wear face coverings at all times while in the facility, including when seated at a table before the meal is served and after the meal is finished
  • Highly encouraged: limit indoor guests to only members of the same household at each table

MORE business RESOURCES

New Statewide Financial Assistance

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed several bills intended to bolster small businesses across California. This includes excluding forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans from taxable income, and offering up to $100 million in tax credits for small businesses impacted by the pandemic that agree to hire new or laid-off workers. For more information, visit the State website and fact sheet.

Business Revitalization and Assistance Grant Program 

The County of San Diego has introduced a new program that offers businesses located in unincorporated areas up to $8,000 to help improve the front exteriors of their buildings. Applications will be accepted from October 1-15, 2020. For more information on the application process, eligibility, and general grant guidelines, please visit the County website.

Employment Training Panel

The Employment Training Panel’s Small Business Program reimburses some training costs for small businesses with 100 or fewer employees. The program covers between eight to 200 hours of instruction for both small business owners and their employees, and includes re-training to adjust and shift with COVID-19 regulations. For more information, visit the State website.

Check out more business resources on our COVID-19 page

Advancing San Diego Company Spotlight: Tourmaline Wireless

The Advancing San Diego (ASD) Internship Program launched this Spring in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully subsidized interns. This program targets companies with 100 employees or less, which comprise 98% of all businesses in San Diego, employ nearly two thirds of San Diegans, and account for 70 percent of job growth. A key issue for these companies has been a lack of time and resources to recruit the skilled talent necessary to continue their growth.

As students are closing out their Summer internship experiences, EDC is rolling out this blog series to highlight the innovative local companies that comprise the first cohort of the program, and the interns they hosted.

In this feature, we sat down with Paul Victorine, CTO and Co-Founder at Tourmaline Wireless, who hosted two ASD interns. A part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, Tourmaline Wireless is building the future of decentralized wireless telecommunications. The Oceanside-based company provides resilient, off-grid solutions based on mesh networks, 4G LTE, and Iridium satellite.

Why was your company founded, and what are your current points of focus? 

I started the company at the beginning of 2019, after having worked for a Tier-1 wireless operator for nearly 20 years. I jumped at the opportunity to start my own consulting business, leveraging an extensive background in deploying and optimizing cellular networks. Tourmaline is currently developing a new gateway product that will allow localized mesh networks to connect to geographically separated networks across the globe. This gateway will allow neighborhoods and communities affected by natural disasters to continue communicating with their loved ones. This allows for the sharing of hyper-local information and will support offline payment remittances in far-off corners of the world. It might even provide hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail a means of “checking-in” with friends and family at various mile markers. There are many use-cases we envision for the mesh gateway, and we are excited to see how our customers anticipate using the device too!

Tell us about your experience building a small business in San Diego. What resources, services and/or organizations were most valuable in supporting Tourmaline’s growth?

Building a startup in San Diego has been a great experience overall! Valuable resources include following San Diego Regional EDC, Innovate78, and the City of Oceanside. There is a ton of talent here in San Diego – largely coming out of the many colleges and universities spread throughout the county. There is also a surprising amount of resources available here that help support small business. I’ve been really impressed with all the grants, loans, and positive encouragement broadcast daily from San Diego Regional EDC.

How has your company pivoted as a result of COVID-19?

As a result of COVID-19, we decided to go all-in and focus exclusively on new product development as our day-to-day consulting jobs (designing, installing, and optimizing cellular in-building equipment) were mostly sidelined due to COVID-19.

Tell us a little bit about your interns and the value they bring.

We are currently hosting two college interns through the ASD program, who you’ll hear from in another blog post. One intern is soon graduating from UC San Diego, with a BS in Computer Science. Our second intern will be starting her Junior year at NYU, as a transfer from Mesa College, also studying Computer Science. The internship experience was definitely a challenge given its fully remote format. Plus, it was our first time hosting interns, but it turned out to be a rewarding experience for all of us. They helped troubleshoot and improve our existing software codebase, adding new features and functionality. We were able to meet up in-person (socially distanced, of course) for a field day of wireless range testing at Balboa Park. It was a fun experience and I think it helped the interns better understand the capability of wireless mesh communications.

In your opinion, what is special about San Diego’s science and technology community, and the talent that drives it?

San Diego has historically been a technology-driven community, from the early days with the focus on military and defense (companies like General Dynamics) to the early 2000’s being a wireless hotbed (including Qualcomm, Nokia, etc). Now we are starting to see software really taking hold here, with companies like Apple opening offices and building out their local workforce. San Diego really is the perfect choice for STEAM students to select for college and then stay to launch their careers.

Visit Tourmaline Wireless on web and Instagram.

Learn more about Advancing San Diego and our internship program.