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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


March 2016

March 22, 2016

This week, we sat down with Anne Benge, president of Unisource Solutions to discuss how the company is helping revolutionize office space - creating dynamic, collaborative working environments for San Diego's most innovative companies. With offices first in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the company expanded its California footprint with an expansion in San Diego in 2009. Listed among San Diego Metro Magazine's Most Admired Companies, Unisource Solutions has serviced 678 companies in San Diego since its inception.

1) Please tell us what your company/organization does.

Unisource Solutions creates amazing workspaces for clients throughout San Diego, the state of California and across the U.S. Where do you work? Where is your favorite place to think? Where do you go to read financials? Our superior design team works with architecture, real estate, buildings and companies to marry space and culture. Personally, my best thinking is done while I run, I cannot read financials standing (this I have learned since I have a standing desk and when I study our P&L, I move to the kitchen in our office to think). The two biggest issues facing every single CEO that I talk to are how to get the best talent and how to develop or change their company’s culture. Your space, the design of your space and your furniture all make an impact.

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?

San Diego is a diverse, fragmented, fantastic market. Educated, entrepreneurial, loyal and international are how we think of this market. I doubt that I could actually be more pro-California. The scale of our city aligns with other powerhouses around the globe and it amazes me during my travels just how exciting that can be – think Helsinki, think Kyoto, think Stockholm, my list goes on and on. The inherent collaborative nature of San Diego makes it the best place in California.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

True to San Diego thinking, I think of people and their companies. Renovate America with Dan Cancelleri building their spaces, Helix with David Becker creating a completely great lab space and John Frager taking CBRE to another level in San Diego.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

Our business is shifting and adapting, along with everyone else. While we are considered a distribution and warehousing company, our growing business is design, project management and facilities management services. We will continue to see healthcare facilities look like five-star hotels, while hotels and offices strive to look like homes and restaurants. Importing global thinking to San Diego will continue to move us forward. Life sciences, defense and technology are thriving and the need for attracting and retaining talent and providing an inspiring place to work will to push us forward.  

Unisource Solutions showroom:

March 15, 2016

This week, we sat down with Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, president of National University and chancellor of the National University System to discuss the university's undeniable impact on our region. For more than four decades, National University has trained our region's workforce – providing convenient, quality education for veterans, adult learners and more. In a new partnership with AMN Healthcare, National University will assist with the development of AMN's online, educational practices and pedagogy aimed at clinical staff. National University – and its partnerships with companies such as AMN – is spearheading the ongoing professional development of our region and workforce. 

1)      Please tell us a little about National University. We’re not looking for the traditional ‘about us.’ Feel free to share anecdotes, projects or interesting facts that others may not know.

National University has deep ties to the San Diego community and our military population. Our founder Dr. David Chigos was, in fact, a Navy retiree and working for General Dynamics when he identified a need to provide quality, accessible education for working professionals. This included for our military community, which faced regular deployments and class scheduling challenges. National University became a pioneer in meeting the needs of adult learners, launching a unique one-class-per-month format that was particularly convenient for our military students to pursue their studies. Since our founding in 1971, we have grown to become the second-largest private, nonprofit university in California. We have more than two dozen locations throughout the state and Nevada, and locally we are in Chula Vista, La Mesa, Spectrum, Kearny Mesa, Carlsbad, Rancho Bernardo as well as at San Diego area military base locations. We also were among the early pioneers of online education, and so our students have a choice or learning online, on campus or through a hybrid format. We offer more than 100 programs in all areas of study, and our Sanford College of Education is among the Top Ten largest in the nation.

2)      Ensuring San Diego has a steady stream of talented university grads is essential to our regional competitiveness strategy. What are some of the advantages to having your university’s footprint in San Diego?

National University is proud to be in and of San Diego since it brings so many opportunities to partner with wonderful organizations dedicated to keeping our region competitive, such as the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

In fact, you may not realize how many people in our community are National University graduates. They include council members Myrtle Cole and Marti Emerald, former San Diego mayor and police chief Jerry Sanders, who is now CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, School District Superintendents such as Jeff Felix of the Coronado School District and Duane Coleman of the Oceanside Unified School District, and your neighbors and work colleagues.

We are serving a very important need in the San Diego community in collaboration with the other great institutions in our region. About 80 percent of our undergraduate students are transfer students, many who come to us from other local San Diego institutions and community colleges. Many of the students in our graduate programs come from some of San Diego’s well-known institutions, such as San Diego State University, and other CSUs, as well as from the University of California system – so we are clearly providing a pathway to ongoing professional education that will directly serve our community.

We also have established educational partnerships with both the County of San Diego and the City of San Diego, which named us their Preferred Employee Education Partner, to serve our region’s working professionals in the public sector. Community partnerships are important to us, and that includes our involvement as the San Diego Padres’ exclusive education partner. We look forward to holding our commencement at the Padres stadium in 2016.

3)      San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation.  National University is very engaged with many of them. Pick a San Diego-area company that’s at the top of its game.

Education is such a driver for our region’s competitiveness and it’s been exciting to collaborate with a number of companies as they redefine workplace education. One example is with AMN Healthcare, which is one of San Diego’s greatest companies and the nation’s largest provider of healthcare staffing and workforce solutions. AMN’s CEO and President Susan Salka has led a phenomenal team to be at the forefront of redefining the workforce in health care today and is dedicating efforts to ongoing education and training for clinical staff.  We have partnered with AMN Healthcare to complement the company’s extensive and targeted educational efforts by supplying it with the technological framework to enhance its offerings. This has been a great fit since National University was a first mover with online learning, so we are assisting with the development of online practices and pedagogy aimed at clinical staff. What AMN is doing is very impressive and underscores the importance of ongoing professional development in ways that will positively impact our region and workforce. We are pleased to be partnering with AMN on this important initiative.

4)      What do you anticipate for National University in the next 5 years? What do you anticipate for the San Diego region?

I am so pleased to have served over the past three years as both President of National University and as Chancellor of the National University System. Now it’s time to hand over presidential duties April 1 to Dr. David Andrews who comes to us as the highly-regarded Dean of the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. I am confident he will do a superb job and the San Diego community will enjoy getting to know him. I will continue to work closely with Dr. Andrews as I focus more of my attention on the System, a network of accredited nonprofit education institutions serving higher education and K-12 students and anchored by National University.

San Diego is such an innovation-driven community. We are already a clear leader in health, biotech and other major fields, and we can expect even more amazing breakthroughs in the sciences and creative industries in the next five years. Our cross-border region is also one of our greatest strengths, with the potential to make San Diego an even stronger force in the global economy. Partnerships with groups such as the All Star Games 2016 will also put San Diego on the map and allow us to share our great stories with the wider world. Educational institutions such as ours will be critical for identifying market-relevant programs and developing partnerships with the private and public sector. National University has been a pioneer in offering quality education for the working adult, and we will continue to be a leader in providing innovative education models to help address an anticipated need in California of 1.5 million more college graduates by 2025. We will do this through the creation of programs that prepare students for new and in-demand professions, such as our popular cybersecurity program. And we will continue to train a new generation of leaders - great teachers, civic leaders and professionals – as part of our commitment to strengthening our economy one graduate at a time.

We also see ourselves as a major national driver in offering and putting into practice innovative approaches to education. National University prepares more teachers than any other university in California, and we see our role expanding on a national scale by identifying and supporting initiatives that emphasize PreK-12 student development and success. As the home of the Sanford Education Center, launched in 2014, we are currently leading the national adoption of two such programs – Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire – to classrooms in San Diego and nationwide in collaboration with universities around the country.  We also have similar plans for our unique “cause sales” fundraising programs developed by the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy to support the work of nonprofits. These three initiatives come from the vision of philanthropist and entrepreneur T. Denny Sanford, and as we are very proud to be leading their national expansion as it aligns closely with our own mission as a private, nonprofit university serving the public good.

March 8, 2016
 

 This week we sat down with Shannon Foster, general manager of Hotel Solamar in downtown San Diego. With an $8 million renovation set to wrap up this month, Hotel Solamar - EDC's newest investor - is adding to the vibrancy of downtown. 

 

1) Please tell us about Hotel Solamar. We’re not looking for the traditional ‘about us.’ Feel free to share anecdotes, projects or interesting facts that others may not know.

Hotel Solamar launched in 2005 and was the first Kimpton in Southern California at the time. Today, Kimpton has 66 hotels and a much bigger California presence—but we’re proud of the fact that we were first in the market. Being an 11-year-old property in the fast-growing downtown neighborhood, we were ready for an update last year and I’m thrilled to say we just completed a full scale renovation. The new design captures the historic essence of San Diego, Balboa Park and the missions, but with a contemporary twist. Another thing we’re really proud of is our service—it’s really like nothing else you will experience in San Diego. It’s anticipatory, genuine and personal.   

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?

San Diego is such a fast-growing market, especially in downtown, which has really developed over the last 11 years since we’ve been here. East Village and Gaslamp are perfect examples. Plus, there is no shortage of outdoor activities available to locals and tourists—surfing, hiking, biking, standup paddle boarding, you name it. The restaurant space is also growing and there are so many startup companies situated right here in San Diego.  This is the second largest microbrewery city in the country, blending that into a marriage of healthy fusion of beach life, entrepreneurial spirit and amazing weather year-round. I’m not sure you could ask for much more!   

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

I think Pura Vida is a really wonderful company. The idea behind this business was a simple inspiration found in Costa Rica and started out with 400 bracelets having been sold in 2011, but it has really taken off. They’ve sold over 2 million bracelets and their products are now seen around the world, symbolizing the need to live life to the fullest and to give back to the community. From what I’ve read, they’ve donated nearly $700K to 190 charities, so they are definitely living their social responsibility, which certainly really makes me respect them even more.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

We’ve recently announced a new property in Amsterdam and for the next five years we will have a growing international presence. I think San Diego is going to continue to grow, evolve, and attract the brightest minds from around the world. Because it’s such a great place to do business, newer companies, such as Houzz and Pura Vida are making a mark on the entire country and beyond. I’m excited to be a part of this growth and show our guests daily just how incredible this city is.

 

March 4, 2016

Phil Blair

Download a printable version
 

“The local economy picked up steam in January after slowing a bit toward the end of 2015 – a typical trend as seasonal, holiday jobs phase out. Key sectors like manufacturing, construction, engineering, and health care all posted outstanding figures this month. These trends are also reflected in the demand for staffing services, which posted seven percent growth in employment in January.”
Phil Blair, Executive Officer
Manpower San Diego


This post is part of an ongoing monthly series dedicated to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) monthly employment release and is brought to you by Manpower

 

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) released statewide county employment data today for the January 2016 period, as well as revisions for 2015. This month’s data shows that San Diego's labor market fundamentals remained strong, as unemployment continued to fall amid solid and steady job growth.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in January, the lowest since September 2007. The rate is down 0.1 points from the revised December number and 1.2 points from the previous year. The San Diego rate remained much lower than the statewide unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. The national unemployment rate rose substantially to 5.3 percent, well above the San Diego rate. The rate dropped in part due to a typical seasonal decline in the labor force from December to January, but the annual labor force increased by 6,100, with 16,900 fewer unemployed persons since January 2015.

Employment dropped back below 1.4 million in January, but seasonal declines are typical after the holiday season. More importantly, year-over-year employment went up by 38,200, a 2.8 percent increase. San Diego’s growth rate was again much higher than the 1.9 percent national rate. While the year-over-year growth slowed as 2015 progressed, the growth rate climbed again in January, which is a positive sign of momentum in the region.

The private sector drove employment growth in January, as private employment accounted for 90.3 percent of all employment growth over the year. The total private sector grew by 3.1 percent year-over-year, out-pacing the private U.S. growth rate of 2.2 percent.

Private growth was driven largely by service providers, but goods producers experienced another strong month. Manufacturers and construction companies drove 24.0 percent of private job growth in January. The two industries added a combined 8,300 jobs in January. The manufacturing industry in particular had a very strong month, posting 3.4 percent growth, compared to the national growth rate of 0.4 percent in the industry. Revisions showed that 2015 was an even stronger year than previously understood, with an annual 2015 growth average of 3.7 percent.


Professional, scientific, and technical (PST) services, which is strongly associated with the region’s innovation economy, slowed substantially in January, but it is unclear if there are complications with the EDD revision. Prior to the revision, the industry showed6.6 percent growth in 2015. With revisions, that growth is only 1.9 percent. It is unclear if job growth previously categorized as PST was moved to another sector like manufacturing or management, as national revised figures don't show the same dramatic shift. Architecture and engineering, a subset of PST services, showed solid growth of 5.1 percent despite the overall PST figure.

Other key drivers for growth included the region’s healthcare sector, which added 7,100 jobs and accounted for roughly one fifth of the region’s private job growth in January. Tourism experienced strong year-over-year growth, adding 5,900 jobs and contributing to 17.1 percent of growth.

In all, the January report released today showed many continued positive signs for San Diego's economy. The dramatic adjustment to PST employment raises some questions, and we will have to wait and see what was behind this revision by EDD. Otherwise, the region posted another month of solid yearly job growth, in large part due to the booming manufacturing and construction industries. Unemployment fell despite statewide and nationwide increases, and growth was spread out across a variety of key high-wage and base sectors in the region.

This report was performed with assistance from the CBRE research team in San Diego.

 

March 3, 2016

By Matt Sanford, director of economic development

As I fly over Palmdale and glance down at one of the last large aerospace manufacturing facilities in the Southern California, it is a reminder that the aerospace industry as a whole is experiencing dramatic change. Some of the large industrial centers still exist and are highlights of the heritage of the industry. But the landscape as a whole is changing.
 
San Diego is the place where Charles Lindbergh built the Spirit of St Louis and since then, Southern California has been at the forefront of aerospace innovation. Today, it continues to be a hub for innovators looking to push the envelope. But instead of erecting more large manufacturing facilities, we will see this innovation in entrepreneurs and startups, in tech companies that are entering the industry, and in legacy industry leaders who are pioneering new technologies, and driving convergence with other tech sectors to create new capabilities.
 
Now, we are creating new sensors and systems to push the envelope even further. The James Webb Space Telescope being developed by Northrop Grumman in El Segundo will give us the most comprehensive look at the universe to date. The technology developed at ViaSat in Carlsbad is creating the fastest satellite broadband available to the public. San Diego is also home to Brain Corporation, 5D Robotics and the Center of Excellence for Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems division. These companies, among others, are creating systems that will work autonomously to take on the dull, dirty and dangerous tasks that put people, both services members and private citizens, at risk.
 
So how do we quantify this activity? Through a report by the Los Angeles County EDC and San Diego Regional EDC covering the eight county Southern California region, we learned there are over 85,000 direct jobs in our aerospace industry. The total employment impact is nearly a quarter million people and it’s growing. In San Diego County alone, the industry has grown by 66.7 percent since 2004. 
 
The rich heritage of the industry has brought companies and talent to Southern California and San Diego to create a formidable ecosystem. But there are challenges. As we move forward, we must continue to support our aerospace manufacturers. We must also be proactive in identifying and supporting new sectors by aligning our universities to stay at the forefront of research and innovation, and working with the state to refute the claims that aerospace is a dying industry. Finally, we must stay at the forefront of the convergence between tech and aerospace, as it will continue to be where Southern California and San Diego can lead the industry. 
 
Even with new large contracts to develop platforms like the Long Range Strike Bomber, we must realize that as a percentage, those in the industry will be fewer on the factory floor, and more in labs and behind computers.
 
It is an exciting time for the aerospace industry in Southern California. The ecosystem is changing rapidly. It brings with it opportunity for seemingly endless growth and development of new technologies.
 
For more information, see the full study and fact sh eet.
March 1, 2016

The notion that the aerospace industry is in decline is dead wrong.  And now, thanks to a study conducted by Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) in partnership with San Diego Regional EDC, we have the numbers to prove it. Released today, The Changing Face of Aerospace in Southern California, provides an in-depth analysis that describes the highly developed industry cluster across eight Southern California counties. In total, the industry impacts nearly 250,000 jobs throughout Southern California. 

Across the Southern California region, aerospace directly accounted for 85,500 jobs – 14 percent of the US industry employment. Additionally, San Diego is home to 12,040 aerospace jobs – approximately 14 percent of Southern California’s aerospace industry. With industry wages averaging $105,715 a year, aerospace workers are among the highest-paid in the SoCal region- almost twice the average pay of other industries.

Thanks to Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Center of Excellence in Rancho Bernardo and SPAWAR – the Navy’s R&D arm in San Diego – San Diego excels in aerospace technologies.

The aerospace industry not only serves as a crucial pillar of our statewide defense strategy, but with the rise of UAVs and robotics, it also represents a new frontier of innovation – one that is dependent on strong statewide support and innovative policies.  The report was released as part of Southern California Aerospace Day in Sacramento

The report was made possible through the generous funding of Bank of America, California Manufacturing Technology Consulting, Northrop Grumman Corporation and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

For more information, see the fact sheet.

 

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