Inclusive Growth

Launched in 2018 and informed by a partnership with the Brookings Institution, EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative informs San Diego’s economic priorities and makes the business case for economic inclusion.

The innovation economy will continue to make San Diego more prosperous than many of its peers, but it is not accessible to the fastest-growing segment of the region’s population. This mismatch between our regional assets and our economy’s future needs will consistently erode the region’s competitiveness.

To fuel San Diego’s recovery and growth, these challenges must be met by a regional coalition of diverse stakeholders committed to programs that are demand-driven, employer-led, and outcomes-based.


Small businesses make up 98 percent of San Diego firms and employ 60 percent of San Diegans—twice the national average. Meanwhile, only one in four small business jobs provides economic security by paying a wage that keeps up with the cost of living and offers employer-sponsored health benefits.

For small businesses offering quality jobs at the same rate as the broader economy, the region must add 50,000 quality jobs within small businesses by 2030. This means big buyers supporting small businesses with strategic purchasing decisions to resilience and quality job creation.

All of the job growth from the last five years required some form of degree or credential acquired through post-secondary education (PSE). Looking forward, it is projected that 84 percent of new jobs created between now and 2030 will be filled by skilled workers—those who have completed PSE.

For local employers to have the talent they need to compete on a global stage, San Diego must focus on developing local talent to meet the demands of the region’s innovation cluster by doubling the number of PSE completions by 2030 so that 20,000 new skilled workers enter the labor force each year. This means employers eliminating inflated educational requirements for many entry-level positions, offering education support, and hiring from San Diego’s robust Community College system–which is inclusive by charter.

Rising home prices coupled with stagnating wages equates to a somber situation for a majority of San Diego’s residents. In fact, a majority of households in the region are not thriving, meaning they sacrifice quality of life to pay for housing-related costs.

San Diego’s affordability crisis not only forces households out of the region, but also deters talent from relocating here to fill in-demand jobs. Ensuring San Diego is an attractive and affordable place for talent and business is imperative to the region’s future competitiveness. This is why the region must cultivate 75,000 newly thriving households by 2030, which will require more housing, more transportation options, and more childcare.

Employer Commitments

Endorsing Companies

Join the movement. Drop us a line to get involved.

Booz Allen Hamilton
Cal State San Marcos
City of Chula Vista
San Diego County Office of Education

How We Got Here

  1. Zortman’s vision

    April 2016

    Retired Vice Admiral and Sector Vice President, Life Cycle Logistics and Support for Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems Jim Zortman is elected EDC chair and challenges us to re-think economic development and engage in community-based economic development efforts so that our citizens have the resources to succeed and thrive here.

  2. Brookings learning lab

    February 2017

    San Diego is selected by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program as one of three U.S. regions to participate in a learning lab, focused on inclusive economic development. EDC works alongside the City of San Diego, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, and UC San Diego Extension to develop a deeper understanding of specific barriers to economic inclusion impacting a variety of populations across the region.

  3. Confronting the brutal facts

    July 2017

    With the help of the Brookings Institution, EDC creates a narrative making the business case for inclusive growth. In the midst of significant technological and demographic changes, inclusion is a competitiveness issue: the educational attainment gap in Black and Latino populations will exacerbate company workforce shortages in STEM fields; the small businesses that employ most San Diegans are not able to compete to grow; and more than half of San Diegans can’t make ends meet.

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  4. To Louisville

    September 20, 2017

    EDC leads a group of business leaders to Louisville, KY where socioeconomic and demographic challenges have come into everyday conversation. Here our group learns the importance of using data to compel action and being bold and direct when addressing issues of inclusion.

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  5. Public Launch

    February 15, 2018

    As the region’s innovation economy continues to grow, EDC incorporates lessons learned into its own strategic plan and publicly launches its Inclusive Growth Initiative. The plan is three-fold: 1) Diversify the regional talent pipeline, 2) Equip small businesses to compete and, 3) Address the region’s affordability crisis.

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  6. Enter Janice

    May 31, 2018

    EDC Chair Jim Zortman ‘passes the gavel’ to Janice Brown, attorney and founder of Brown Law Group, marking the second woman to chair the board. Before a record-breaking Annual Dinner crowd, Janice shares her passion and commitment to economic inclusion, inspiring a new wave of support for the initiative.

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  7. A Steering Committee

    June 2018

    A steering committee, comprising executives from the private and public sector, academia, and philanthropy, meets to help cooperatively develop an inclusive growth agenda for the region. The steering committee will provide input and guidance on EDC research and define regional success by setting broad goals for inclusion, while allowing for individual organizational objectives and tactics.

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  8. Advancing San Diego

    April 18, 2019

    JPMorgan Chase announces San Diego as one of five cities to win a $3 million grant from the AdvancingCities Challenge. This grant will be used to fund a new program—Advancing San Diego—which will connect underrepresented San Diegans with high-demand jobs, while also providing small businesses access to diverse applicants.

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  9. To Atlanta

    September 17, 2019

    EDC leads a delegation of more than 40 San Diegans to Atlanta, GA—a city with deep cultural and historical significance. Three full days of dialogue with some of Atlanta’s most progressive and impactful leaders included lessons on decision making, transportation, and representation.

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  10. Goals for 2030

    October 2019

    Changing skill requirements, a nationwide battle for talent, and a soaring cost of living are combining to form an unequivocal threat to regional competitiveness. If unaddressed, San Diego will no longer be an attractive place to live and do business. Endorsed by more than a dozen private sector employers, EDC announces three audacious goals to be accomplished by 2030 or the region’s economic strength may cease to exist: 1) 20K skilled workers per year by 2030; 2) 50K quality small business jobs by 2030; and 3) 75K newly thriving households by 2030.

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  11. COVID-19 strikes

    March 13, 2020

    Coronavirus sweeps every corner of our globe, leaving economies in crisis and exacerbating every disparity faced by already under-resourced communities. EDC establishes an SBDC to deepen its commitment to small business relief, offering hands-on support to more than 1,400 companies.

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  12. Enter Julian

    June 10, 2020

    At the height of the pandemic, EDC Chair Janice Brown virtually ‘passes the gavel’ to Julian Parra, SVP and Region Executive of Bank of America. With record high unemployment juxtaposed with soaring home prices, Julian doubles down on EDC’s commitment to the Inclusive Growth goals, more important now than ever.

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  13. Procurement report

    January 28, 2021

    EDC releases “Anchor Institutions: Leveraging Big Buyers for Small Business,“ a study and recommendations for large employers to support small businesses by buying local. The report analyzes the spend of more than a dozen local anchors and demonstrates the impact of increased local procurement on quality job creation—important for advancing the 50,000 quality jobs goal.

    Read the report

  14. A new San Diego Biz Hub

    May 19, 2021

    In partnership with GoSite and underwritten by The San Diego Foundation and Union Bank, EDC launches the San Diego Business Hub, which in its first phase will offer 100 small, service-based businesses a full suite of digital tools at no cost. applications prioritize businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic—women, minorities, veterans, and other economically under-resourced groups.

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  15. A vice chair of inclusion

    September 17, 2021

    Unanimously approved by the board of directors, VP & Chief Impact Officer of MAAC Lisette Islas is elected as the first-ever Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth. Lisette will ensure alignment between EDC programmatic and governance decisions, and track progress toward the Inclusive Growth goals reported annually at a community event.

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  16. Together, at last

    March 10, 2022

    Out from behind the Zoom screen after two years, EDC reconvenes 40 regional leaders across industry, nonprofit, government, and academic sectors for two days on inclusive economic growth and the impacts of the pandemic on the region’s progress towards the goals.

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  17. Regionalizing the goals

    April 8, 2022

    EDC’s Report to the Community draws more than 200 stakeholders to hear officials from the City and County of San Diego—as well as leaders in philanthropy, industry, and academia—commit to regionalizing the Inclusive Growth goals. As part of the event, EDC releases a new analysis on San Diego’s progress against the 2030 goals.

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  18. To Seattle

    July 2023

    Together with more than 30 private, nonprofit, and academic leaders in tow, EDC hosts a Leadership Trip to Seattle, WA, a true peer metro to San Diego, to learn about what makes the region so successful and what challenges have stymied it most.

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  19. 2023 progress report

    September 7, 2023

    With updated data and bold objectives set around increasing the number of quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households critical to the region’s competitiveness, EDC releases its 2023 Inclusive Growth Progress Report. As part of a digital suite of all past reports, the interactive storymap measures San Diego’s growth and recovery, and spotlights the greatest threats to prosperity.

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  20. To San Jose

    May 2024

    Together with 35 local business, higher education, nonprofit, and civic leaders in tow, EDC hosts a Leadership Trip to San Jose, CA to learn about what makes the region so successful and what challenges have stymied it most.

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EDC programs

  • Expansion Services/Site Selection

    Anchor Institution Collaborative

  • Talent Pipeline Development

    Advancing San Diego

  • San Diego Investment Map

Anchor Institution Collaborative

Procurement from local businesses creates thousands of quality jobs. EDC’s Anchor Institution Collaborative is a group of 45 anchor institutions, large buyers, community partners, and small business good and service providers focused on maximizing anchor institutions’ economic impact in the region through procurement, capital investment, and neighborhood infrastructure improvement. Get involved.

Advancing San Diego

Talent is the lifeblood of any strong economy. Advancing San Diego is a collaborative effort to better prepare San Diegans for quality jobs via locally-serving education institutions and expand access to diverse, qualified talent for San Diego companies. Get involved.

San Diego Investment Map

San Diego’s greatest challenges include limited childcare, disjointed development both in terms of location and income-level, and rising costs, among others. The San Diego Investment Map serves as a tool for local policy makers, developers, and employers to make informed and deliberate decisions to prioritize the region’s inclusive growth. Explore the map.

Initiative Sponsors

Join the movement.

Interested in learning more or getting involved? Contact our team today:

Teddy Martinez
Teddy Martinez

Sr. Manager, Research