Our region is home to a vibrant manufacturing cluster that spans many industries, including defense, aerospace, shipbuilding and repair, medical devices, craft brewing, and sports and active lifestyle. With a highly-skilled workforce, robust training programs, and close proximity to Mexico, San Diego is a hub for advanced manufacturing companies, with nearly 3,150 manufacturing companies currently supporting more than 108,000 jobs.
San Diego is a craft beer capital, certainly. But add an affinity for the outdoors, San Diego’s powerhouse brewing capabilities, and a sprinkle of regional innovation, and you’re eventually bound to get hard kombucha.
Local companies JuneShine and Boochcraft, which brew their beverages from organic, fresh ingredients, are heavyweights in the $12 million international hard kombucha industry. Even Forbes agrees.
You can keep your house clean and running thanks to San Diego manufacturers that believe its users should enjoy one product for dozens of use cases.
Vista-based Dr. Bronner’s boasts 18 different uses for its castile soaps, like doing laundry, scrubbing toilets, and controlling pests. And arguably everyone’s favorite household item, Scripps Ranch-based WD-40 has compiled more than 2,000 user-documented applications, including oiling, polishing, and removing residue.
You probably know San Diego is a thriving hub for biotech in all forms – from research to medical device manufacturing. BD, Illumina, and Genentech are just a few of the local medical device companies that collectively employ more than 6,000 San Diegans.
And younger, smaller companies are showing no signs of slowing down either. From April through June 2020 alone, San Diego healthcare startups brought in $875 million in VC funding to help advance a variety of tests, treatments, and cures – largely focused on COVID-19.
When it comes to popular success, North County’s golf equipment companies are on par with the rest of our region’s manufacturers. Callaway Golf and TaylorMade Golf, both based in Carlsbad, manufacture high-quality golf and athletic equipment used by casual and pro players alike.
Headquartered in El Cajon with a factory open for public tours, Taylor Guitars equips everyone from new players to Taylor Swift with beautiful, locally-made electric and acoustic instruments. Recently, the company has seen renewed public interest in its product. In June and July alone, the company received an enormous uptick in sales – to the tune of half its projected yearly orders.
All this San Diego sun means we need healthy sun protection. Enter locally-made sunscreen. Coola, Sun Bum, and Amavara Skincare aren’t just solid sunscreen choices; they’re good for the earth too. These local manufacturers boast natural, environmentally-friendly, and cruelty free products – so you can care for yourself and the world around you.
In August, San Diego: Life. Changing., a program of San Diego Regional EDC, wrapped up a series of virtual events highlighting the innovation economy and spirit of collaboration that exist in San Diego. The series looked at how the life sciences industry is playing a role in shaping the pandemic, and life after the pandemic, for our region.
The scientists that participated in the first webinar agreed that the collaborative spirit of San Diego is what makes the life-changing work that happens here possible. Dr. Chanda stated:
“I don’t know if it’s the weather or the synergy, but the partnerships that happen here don’t happen anywhere else. We are working with Scripps, UC San Diego, and a number of local companies across different disciplines.”
Stevens agreed, in saying: “The partnerships are really important – different companies with everyone working together is truly how we’re going to combat this going forward.”[Thermo Fisher] has leveraged a lot of great relationships in the San Diego area. New partnerships come in every day, and I think it’s important to keep working together as one team.”
Then, in June, EDC partnered with investor Illumina to have genomics experts weigh in on the pandemic. We were joined by Gary Schroth, distinguished scientist and Vice President at Illumina, and James Lu, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Helix. Gary and James helped us untangle the complicated world of DNA and understand how next-generation genome sequencing is helping scientists understand the intricacies of COVID-19.
In July, we took a break from the scientists and heard from some of San Diego’s top hiring professionals as they shared pro tips for finding new career opportunities during the global pandemic. Jessica Serrano, Sr. Director of Talent Acquisition and Talent Systems at Lytx; Chris Shoemaker, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at MindTouch; and Lee Wills, Head of Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement for Sony North America shared their recommendations for finding and starting a new job while navigating this new remote-first environment. All three of these companies, and so many others, are still hiring for positions that could lead to a meaningful career in San Diego.
Finally, with the help of trusted investor West Health, we wrapped the San Diego Science & the Global Pandemic webinar series up with a look at what he region is doing to ensure our senior population is receiving the care they deserve in a safe and accessible way as they continue to be among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Moderated by Dr. Zia Agha, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of West Health, the conversation hit on the most important topics from food security for older adults, to dental care, to healthcare policies that will ensure long term success…as well as what WE can do to help the seniors in our community.
If you were able to tune in to our series, we hope that it provided you with some insight on the ongoing and impactful efforts of some of San Diego’s brightest, in a time in our world when we need it most. As always, San Diego steps up to change lives.
San Diego is ranked the among the top genomics markets in the nation, and we have world leaders in next-generation sequencing (NGS) in our backyard. With access to genomic experts and innovative companies who are paving the way for the future of medicine, our region has become a hotspot for transformative life-changing science.
On June 23, San Diego: Life. Changing., EDC’s talent attraction campaign, hosted a panel with scientists who are studying modern genomics to address COVID-19. This panel, titled “San Diego Science & the Global Pandemic: Genomics”, was the second event in a series of virtual panels. We made sure this panel was attractive to everyone, meaning whether you have a PhD or you are a freshman-year-biology-class drop out, the expert panelists broke down the science into layman’s terms to tell the attendees what they need to know about the future of precision medicine and COVID-19.
The panel was moderated by Kathy Lynch, Vice President, Global Government Affairs & Public Policy for Illumina, who plays a critical role in connecting San Diego science with global markets. She moderated a fascinating panel with two distinguished (and very local) scientists.
The first panelist, Gary P. Schroth, Ph.D., Vice President and Distinguished Scientist at Illumina, uses next-generation sequencing (NGS) to study genomics, gene structure, expression and regulation and applies this to projects in the fields of cancer, immunology, microbiology and infectious disease. Over the course of his career Dr. Schroth has been an author on more than 95 peer reviewed research papers and holds 19 U.S. patents.
The second panelist, Dr. James Lu, M.D., Ph.D. is the Co-founder & Chief Science Officer at Helix. Dr. Lu is responsible for the scientific teams which includes bioinformatics, laboratory operations, regulatory, quality, translational research and policy teams.
The panelists wasted no time before delving into the panel, always being cognizant that the majority of their audience did not have a science background. The topics included an overview of NGS, the history of COVID-19, how COVID-19 strains differ from one another and how the strains evolve and travel differently, testing capabilities for the region, as well as other related issues.
Through the panel, it was clear that location in the San Diego region is a top choice for genomics companies and talent. Illumina was founded here 22 years ago and the region has essentially been the heart of genomics renaissance. Many well-established companies are here, as well as tons of startups. The company density paired with the talent pool from local colleges, makes this area a hotbed of genomic activity. There is an immense amount of opportunity that breeds exceptional employees and competitive hiring practices, forcing companies to constantly up their game. 20 years ago if you were a molecular biologist, you wouldn’t have thought of San Diego as a place to start or grow your career – now, the area is at the top of your list.
As this work is all-consuming, during all hours of the day for the last six months, Dr. Gary Schroth joked that he “couldn’t remember what he used to work on” before COVID. This panel made it very clear that the genomics industry in San Diego is at the forefront of COVID research. San Diego is a hotbed of activity and a great place to start or grow your career in life science.
For more COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please visit this page.
Regardless of how this all plays out, EDC is here to help. You can use the button below to request our assistance with finding information, applying to relief programs, and more.
While we are proud to work toward larger changes that make San Diego a more inclusive place to work, live, and build, intentionally purchasing from or supporting Black-owned small businesses is something tangible everyone can do to make San Diego more equitable and sustainable.
To get your list started, here are 8 Black-owned San Diego small businesses, startups, restaurants, & groups you should know. There’s something for everyone:
We Tha Plug was launched in February 2019 as a meetup group to connect and empower Black, Latino, other minorities & underrepresented founders as well as Minority Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors in the Startup, Tech & Innovation space. One of their goals is to create an ecosystem that advocates tech and innovation entrepreneurship in Black & Latino communities across the United States and across the world by giving founders access to startup fundamental education, advice, mentorship, programming, and funding.
If you’re not hungry right now, you will be – just check out their Instagram. With a focus on plant-based breakfast and brunch in the East Village, Spoiled Vegans serves up all kinds of decadent waffles, breakfast sandwiches, and omelettes. They recently reopened for curbside pick-up, but have been selling out quickly – sometimes in less than 15 minutes. Find more information on their Instagram page – and be sure to set your alarm.
Oceanside-based MOTU Innovation is a leader in ship repair & engineering support services. The team provides a broad background in ship repair trade knowledge, as well as shipboard system design and engineering. Learn more.
Launched in North Park in 2014, owners Ron Suel and RaVae Smith serve up Southern classics like Southern style fried chicken, waffles, fried green tomatoes, grit fritters, and indulgent cakes. Its name an homage to the historical local streetcar system that once connected North Park to the rest of San Diego, StreetCar’s interior also features vintage photos and reclaimed wood. If you’re downtown, you can try sister restaurants SuckerFree, or Shotcaller Street Soul Food, which opened in late 2019.
Founded by Janice Brown, who was recognized as trial lawyer of the year by the Department of Justice & a California Black Lawyer of the Year, Brown Law Group is a leading Southern California litigation law firm specializing in all aspects of employment and business litigation. With major clients including Allstate Insurance Company, CenturyLink, Conduent, Liberty Mutual, NBC, Toyota, and United Parcel Service, the group has built a reputation as a small firm that attracts big clients. Brown Law Group attributes much of its success to the confidence of these major employers. Additionally, Brown Law Group has provided pro bono services to I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD) to further promote regional awareness of environmental issues.
El Cajon-based Café X is a worker-owned coffee shop and co-op based in San Diego that aims to enrich its member-owners, pass on communal wealth and knowledge, and provide welcoming space to organize and learn. Café X is part venue for delicious coffee and baked goods, part local art gallery, part event space – and all equitable and cooperative community relationship-building. The cafe hosts community events and local educational support for community members, run by those who are committed to equalizing knowledge.
In 2017, with children on the way and their health in mind, San Diego sisters Martiza, Sativa, and Kaya started making their own products with using plant-based ingredients, like activated charcoal, earth clays, essential oils, and herbs. From there, Dirt Don’t Hurt began. The company takes a natural approach to personal care and cleaning products, which are 100% vegan and cruelty free, and can be found at markets, boutiques, and grocery stores throughout Southern California.
Launched by Dr. Steven Moyo, Welfie is an app that makes health accessible and affordable. Dr. Moyo, who works at UC San Diego Health, wanted to do more to help people engage, connect, learn, and access preventative help. Due to COVID-19, he has pivoted the company to incorporate an all-encompassing COVID-19 reopening portal – which offers employers no-contact health screenings and an eCommerce store to order PPE.
This is just a sampling of San Diego’s many Black-owned businesses. To find more, we encourage you to visit:
Over the past few weeks, it’s fair to say that our world (and community) have been turned upside down. Given the current circumstances, we know there are many San Diego job seekers on the market. And while things are changing rapidly, we are still getting calls from companies that are hiring and VCs that are still looking to invest.
The result: a growing, “live” list of more than 25 companies that are still looking for innovative San Diegans to fill open positions. The list is updated almost daily with new companies and to ensure the most current news, company representatives themselves submit hiring information. With open opportunities at tech giants like Qualcomm, life sciences teams like BD, and even nonprofits and startups, we’re hopeful our community will quickly find exciting new positions working on homegrown innovations.
Click here or scroll down to see the live list of San Diego companies that are hiring. And if your company is still hiring, we encourage your team to use this form to provide our San Diego community with additional details. It takes under a minute to pay it forward – and help someone in our community find their next opportunity.
Amidst uncertain times, we’re grateful for the San Diego life sciences companies responding to COVID-19 in the biggest ways–developing tests, innovating vaccines, and more. But many San Diego companies are stepping up to help in less conventional ways. Here are five:
1. Seven Caves Distillery
Seven Caves Distillery, located off Miramar Road, is one of several local distilleries using its facility to manufacture hand sanitizer and get it in the hands of the people who need it most – restaurant and health care workers. In partnership with Bill Rogers of Liberty Call Distilling, owner Geoff Longenecker has helped source ethanol from fellow distilleries – enough to make more than 200 gallons of sanitizer.
A bicycle accessory manufacturer…helping the COVID-19 effort? It’s true: Clairemont Mesa-based Orucase, which makes sturdy travel cases for cyclists, has modified its manufacturing line to make face masks for medical workers on the front line. The company aims to manufacture 500,000 per week, and can ship immediately.
3. Dr. Bronner’s
Vista-based Dr. Bronner’s recently announced it is allotting a reserve of 2% of all hand sanitizer production to donate to at-risk communities and the organizations that serve them. The company has already shipped donations organizations serving unhoused and low-income populations in San Diego, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Additionally, Dr. Bronner’s donated boxes of soap and hand sanitizer to Vista’s Public Safety team to help keep them healthy while they keep our region safe. See more on Dr. Bronner’s here.
Nanome, a VR startup in Miramar, has been using its immersive technology to help scientists around the world model potential therapies for COVID-19 in virtual reality. Recently, the company’s drug discovery specialist and a biomedical modeler for Australia’s national science agency CSIRO used this tech to investigate the way the virus uses its spike protein to attach to human cells. By using Nanome’s technology, the scientists were able to run simulations and manually interrogate key parts of the model. While scientists recently solved the structure of COVID-19, there are gaps in the knowledge that Nanome believes its technology could help fill.
5. Highland Valley Vineyards
Escondido’s family-owned Highland Valley Vineyards has committed to donating 20% of its proceeds to the San Diego Food Bank through at least mid-May. With this effort, the winery hopes to help the Food Bank support the increased need for food assistance brought on by COVID-19 related employment losses. Individuals interested in supporting a local family business and a great cause can purchase carry-out bottles on Saturday and Sundays, from noon to six, or via the online storefront featuring all of the wines and shipping to 38 states. Learn more at Innovate78.
These are just a few of the many San Diego companies stepping up to help in creative ways. Know a great company that deserves recognition? Tag @SDlifechanging on Twitter or Instagram to let us know.
Every Friday, ‘Good News of the Week’ features a curation of positive headlines from San Diego, delivered straight to your inbox. A blend of aggregated stories from San Diego’s best news sources and original EDC-created content, GNOTW provides a comprehensive recap of the region’s best stories from the past week.
For the week of February 7, 2020, here’s a look at what we’re reading:
This post originally appeared on SDlifechanging.org. San Diego: Life. Changing. is an EDC led initiative focused on attracting and retaining STEM talent in San Diego. Check out the company map and more for information about working and living in San Diego.
It’s that time of year again. The holidays have come and gone, only to be replaced by subzero temperatures, snow-covered driveways, and really angry people commuting to work. Not exactly the kind of “chill” we’re into here in San Diego (where it’s currently 64 degrees Fahrenheit). So we’ve brought back our Just Say No to Winter campaign to remind everyone that life doesn’t have to be like that. You can actually have a meaningful career at an awesome company without freezing all season.
This year, we partnered with the San Diego Tourism Authority to make Just Say No to Winter bigger and better than ever. In addition to the digital ads served in chilly regions and the Boston subway ads we did last year, the campaign now includes subway ads in Chicago and a live activation with Surfer Sam on the stone-cold streets of New York City.
SD’s Surfer Sam paddles through NYC
From January 21-23, Surfer Sam will be walking around with a bright orange surfboard, telling people to “just say NO!” And if that doesn’t entice them, perhaps winning a trip to San Diego would. One lucky New Yorker will win a pair of roundtrip airfare with JetBlue Airlines from NYC to SD, a 3-night stay at downtown San Diego’s luxury Pendry hotel, and even a walking food tour with So Diego Tours.
Click on any of the photos below to check out some of Surfer Sam’s NYC encounters. And if you live in New York, there’s still time to catch Surfer Sam and win a trip to San Diego! Follow along on Instagram Stories for her whereabouts.
Why are we telling people to “just say no to winter?”
“Last year, San Diego saw nearly 105,000 unique job postings for STEM-related occupations,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO at San Diego Regional EDC. “With tech heavyweights such as Qualcomm, Illumina, Viasat and now Apple who all cite talent as a major reason for their presence in our region, we must continuously strive to remain competitive by attracting, retaining and developing skilled workers. Plus, as a Boston native, I can confidently say that it is possible to have a great career without freezing every day.”
While the demand for quality STEM talent is at an all-time high nationwide, the Just Say No to Winter campaign was introduced in January 2019 in an effort to bring and retain talent to San Diego, resulting in ‘go-viral’ status, national media attention and 123 million impressions. EDC, through its SD: Life. Changing. platform, juxtaposed footage of San Diego’s (nearly) year-round sunshine with harsh, freezing winters in metros across the country, while also showcasing mission-driven companies that call this place home.
This year, with support from SDTA, EDC will be expanding its public transit advertising inside subways to Chicago and Boston and executing various digital marketing tactics, including paid and organic social media, to direct talent to justsaynotowinter.com. The Just Say No to Winter landing page will now feature links to a company map, 28 neighborhood profiles, talent video profiles, and details on a campaign sweepstakes.
“Our region is a top travel destination, and it’s also home to numerous tech and life sciences companies that are doing great, life-changing work,” said Kerri Kapich, COO at the San Diego Tourism Authority. “We often hear travelers say that they fall in love with San Diego when they visit and wish they could do business here, which is why we’ve partnered with EDC. Together, we’re encouraging more people to visit San Diego and see for themselves that San Diego really is the best place to live, work and play.”
San Diego: Life. Changing.’s Just Say No to Winter promotion will run in conjunction with EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative and Advancing San Diego program, allowing for regional employers to also look inward and develop local talent. To learn more about the campaign, visit justsaynotowinter.com.
Through it all, EDC impacted 5,228 jobs and worked on 179 projects – supported by companies, investors, community partners, and more – on behalf of San Diego’s economy. While our work spans multiple industries and organizations, with various programs and goals, there’s an universal thread that ties it all together: build a more inclusive economy that benefits all San Diegans.
As we close out 2019 and another successful decade, let us recap our top 10 wins for San Diego…
San Diego: Life. Changing.’s Just Say No to Winter campaign received national attention
Going into its fourth year, SD: Life. Changing. is our award-winning campaign that aims to attract and retain talent for our region. We kicked off 2019 with Just Say No to Winter, a transit and social media campaign that targeted STEM talent in Boston, Chicago, and New York during the peak of winter with information about career opportunities in San Diego. Thanks to this go-viral marketing push – and coverage in The New York Times, the nationally-syndicated program “The List,” and more – we saw 34X the ROI, 2.6 million social media impressions, and 36K video views.
EDC received its largest grant in history, catalyzing Advancing San Diego
World Trade Center SD’s MetroConnect export assistance program had its best year yet
Made possible through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co., MetroConnect provides small- and medium-sized companies with the resources necessary to expand into global markets. During the 2018-19 program, companies in MetroConnect IV collectively generated a net increase of $69.6 million in export sales, signed 369 international contracts, and opened 10 new facilities overseas. Together, the 20 participating companies also created more than 100 jobs in San Diego – evidence that exporting supports the increase of jobs locally.
While the growth of our innovation economy has created tremendous opportunity, it has also perpetuated systemic inequities. 2019 was all about elevating an inclusive economic development strategy – the lens in which EDC views all of its work – so that economic growth is seen and felt among the entire region. In order to effectively do this, EDC’s employer-led Inclusive Growth Steering Committee supported actionable recommendations and measurable targets for creating a San Diego that benefits all residents. By 2030:
With support from EDC, Cubic Corporation secured $8.5M in tax credits & broke ground on its new HQ
“Since our founding in 1951, we have established strong roots in the San Diego community and it was very important for us to remain headquartered here. The San Diego Regional EDC was an integral resource for our redevelopment. They were able to strategically bring key partners together and secure incentives that best positioned us to redevelop our headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area.” – Anshooman Aga, executive vice president and CFO at Cubic Corporation
EDC managed San Diego’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP), propelling 1,150+ successful missions
From monitoring coastal erosion to fighting wildfires, drones offer enormous social and environmental benefits. San Diego is currently one of 10 state, local, and tribal governments to participate in the Integration Pilot Program, which has allowed our region to be at the forefront of an industry that is expected to reach a $43 billion market value by 2024.
EDC produced 24 reports to help residents and businesses better understand San Diego’s economy
EDC provides research and data to local companies, site selectors, and civic leaders to help them make well-informed decisions about our economy. From monthly reports (and videos) that chart key economic indictors to customized economic impact reports for companies, EDC’s research helped the regional stakeholders better understand this place we call home.
Innovate78 ampliﬁed its reach along the 78 Corridor, convening more than 500+ individuals
International partnerships take time, but based on initial meetings on the trade mission, San Diego has planted the seed for long-term relationships with major companies, including BMW, IBM, Siemens, Daimler, and more.
We might be a little biased, but we think San Diego is a pretty special place. It’s full of passionate forward-thinkers who somehow find the perfect balance of both working hard and playing hard. So what’s San Diego’s secret formula? Simply add life-changing companies, nearby mountains and beaches, and friendly, driven people, and a great work-life balance will come naturally. Here, it’s almost impossible not to have it all – and telecommunications heavyweight Viasat is all about this harmony.
Located in the growing tech hub of Carlsbad, Viasat is a global communications company that enables high-quality, affordable internet connection for new markets. Viasat innovators design solutions to provide Wi-Fi for commercial aviation, military technology, and underserved areas. We met Gary Lovely, a lead front-end engineer (now promoted to development manager) who moved to San Diego from the Bay Area. At Viasat, he helps connect communities to internet access, enabling more opportunities for people around the world.
“San Diego has actually given me a new lease on life, to be able to understand that I can, in a way, have it all,” he said. Even with this critical work, Gary still finds time to take advantage of Viasat’s indoor and outdoor collaborative spaces, and enjoy its basketball and beach volleyball courts. “[Before San Diego,] I didn’t realize that work-life balance was something that existed. Coming from the Bay Area, everyone always preached about it, but no one actually lived it.”
To learn more about how Viasat employees solve important problems while enjoying life, watch Gary’s video below. You’ll discover how San Diego enables a life in balance and, most importantly, why Gary loves coming to work every day. “When we’re able to solve a problem that impacts a large mass of people, it brings us a lot of joy to know that we’re doing the right thing for the community and the world as a whole,” he said. Transforming lives, including your own – it doesn’t get more #SDlifechanging than that.