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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

July 18, 2018

It's Comic-Con week, San Diego. Whether you’re one of the 135,000 attendees or you’re just heading downtown to people-watch, Comic-Con has the power to turn the mundane into the magical - if done right. The international convention has a $147.1 million regional economic impact, and spurs 57,7000 hotel room nights. And in an attempt to attract attendees from outside of the region to live and work here, San Diego: Life. Changing. is hosting a Comic-Contest on social media and is even setting up a skylight downtown. Location hint: it smells like chocolate and looks like a hipster's closet....  See below for a Comic-Con how-to guide.

How to Comic-Con

  1. Don’t be afraid to walk. All of downtown San Diego will be jam-PACKED with cool activations on buildings, buses, trolleys, street corners, our sunny skies, and bars/restaurants galore. Parking far away might not be such a bad thing.
  2. Download Ace Parking app. If you’re one of the many people who weren’t quick enough to get the sold-out Comic-Con parking spaces, you can download the free Ace Parking app to see where all of the available public parking spots are at. Thursday morning is usually the most challenging time for parking, since many people will be trying to navigate around downtown for the first time. Just be patient and embrace it.
  3. Or take the Trolley. The SDCCU Stadium (Formerly Qualcomm Stadium) is an easy and convenient alternative to braving downtown in a car.  For the small price of a trolley ticket, you can park and enjoy a ride to and from downtown, most likely seated next to your favorite superhero and villain.
  4. Wear comfortable close-toed shoes and socks. We get it. It’s San Diego, and people wear flip-flops here. But Comic-Con draws thousands of people into downtown San Diego. That means the streets, sidewalks, and any other surface will be taken up by people walking every which way. You are most likely to get stomped on and/or will be walking a couple miles. Wear your comfy shoes and you’ll be thankful later.
  5. Embrace the lines. Lines are everywhere. For the panels, the crazy cool photo ops, and especially at all of the nearby restaurants and bars. It’s okay, just hop in and know that whatever you’re waiting for will be worth it. The people-watching alone will surely set your spirits back up.
  6. Know your way around. A lot of time can be wasted by trying to navigate around the crowds. Don’t be that lost soul, desperately in need of an iced coffee but can’t figure out where to get it. Do your homework to know where you’d want to get food/drinks from and where they are located in downtown. Also note that Harbor Drive will be closed for the first time this year. The Convention Center put together some helpful maps, so you don’t drive around like a newb.
  7. Have fun! This is a time for you to explore everything nerdy with people all around who share that same passion. From comics to tabletop games to movies to books, it has everything. Talk to people in lines, make friends. Who knows, you could meet your new BFF...or roommate for when you finally take the San Diego plunge.

The fun doesn't have to end with Comic-Con. Enter the #ComicContest

We've teamed up with local illustrator Jon Condry (@joncondry) to develop custom-made pins, in the spirit of San Diego: Life. Changing.  So head to IDW Publishing's booth #2743 (did you know they were a San Diego-based company?) to collect one. And keep a lookout for San Diego: Life. Changing.'s street team (@bernoraptor & @bree_burris) this weekend for another shot. Follow @SDlifechanging on Twitter, where they'll keep you up-to-date on their location.  Then, once you have your hands on one of these exclusive pins, head over to our one of our social channels - @SDlifechanging in case you were wondering - and post it. Check out sandiegolifechanging.org/comiccontest/ for more details and info. And check out #ComicContest to see some posts.

And if you want to start your job search today, head over to the company map to learn about some of our companies that are hiring.

Good luck, and don't forget your sunscreen.

July 17, 2018

EDC launched the San Diego: Life. Changing. campaign to attract talent and investment to San Diego by celebrating the smart and innovative people that call this place home.

Join us August 9 for a night of local food + drinks served up by celeb chef Brian Malarkey, campaign giveaways, and more to learn how we can take San Diego: Life. Changing. to the next level. We'll also hear a keynote from Dawn Barry, co-founder and president of Luna DNA, and Nate Wiger of Amazon. Stay tuned for word on another special guest..

Where: Farmer & the Seahorse | 10996 Torreyana Rd, San Diego, CA 92121 (one of the hippest spots in SD)
When: Thursday, August 9, 2018 | 5:00-8:30pm

July 13, 2018

San Marcos-based MetroConnect company Ocean Reef Group proves just what we mean by San Diego: Life. Changing. 

When twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a partly flooded cave, the diving equipment company quietly stepped in behind the headlines. On its own accord, Ocean Reef shipped thousands of dollars worth of full-face dive masks to Thailand to be worn by the young boys as they escaped the cave. After a two-week ordeal, all team members survived and were successfully extricated. This is how #SDlifechanging gets to work.

More details here.

July 12, 2018

Amid contentious political rhetoric and tightening borders, global trade and investment are top of mind for national leaders and companies alike. To contextualize the importance of such international connectivity, World Trade Center San Diego, with support from the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy, released “Trade and Competitiveness in North America,” a research summary that quantifies trade and competitiveness in the Cali Baja mega-region, spurred in part by the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“An integrated North American economy creates opportunity on both sides of the border. For every 10 jobs an American multinational creates in Mexico, it creates 25 in the United States,” said Nikia Clarke, Ph.D., executive director, World Trade Center San Diego. “As we look at a global economy where 95 percent of the world consumers live outside of North America, the ways we partner with Canada and Mexico to produce goods, services, and technology is crucial to our economic future.”

With nearly $3.6 billion in trade occurring daily between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and 14 million jobs in the U.S. supported by this trade within North America, NAFTA is one of the most beneficial and significant trade agreements in history – most especially to the Cali Baja mega-region, which includes San Diego County, Imperial County, and the State of Baja California.

Against the backdrop of rapid changes in global production, a newfound ‘trade war’ with China, and renegotiations of trade agreements, Cali Baja’s global competitiveness is dependent on the $2.5 billion co-producing manufacturing supply chain that creates jobs and opportunities on both sides of the border.

KEY STUDY FINDINGS:

  • Cali Baja’s foreign exports total $24.3 billion, of which $6.2 billion stay within the mega-region.
  • Mexico is California’s largest export market, with annual exports totaling $26.8 billion. Today, trade with Mexico supports more than 566,000 jobs in California.
  • Since NAFTA was signed, California exports to Mexico have grown by 311 percent.
  • Cali Baja produces commodities including medical devices, semiconductors, aerospace parts, and audio and video equipment. Together, the mega-region’s manufacturing sector directly employs 418,300 workers.
  • In the U.S., nearly 87 percent of manufacturing job losses from 2000 to 2010 were caused by productivity increases as opposed to the relocation of jobs attributed to trade.
  • More than 51 percent of trade within Cali Baja is in the service sector. These include:
    • $7.6 million in computer systems design and related services
    • $3.5 million in scientific R&D services
    • $2 million in software publishers

“It is clear that the cross border economic relationship plays a critical role in the Cali Baja mega-region in spurring economic growth, advancing technology, and enhancing lives on many levels,” said Melissa Floca, associate director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, a top policy research center for U.S.-Mexico relations. “These findings underscore the importance of continued cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. to enhance the value we create as a region in services and advanced manufacturing.”

Cross border production sharing has made North America more integrated, more resilient, and more competitive; it has also served to insulate our economies from other global competitors like China. By 2020, however, more than half of all U.S. exports will be in services, not goods. Establishing a robust framework for IP protections, data transfer, and privacy will be essential in ensuring that North America remains competitive in the global economy.

“In the Cali Baja mega-region, we continue to strengthen our binational ties by working closely together to improve economic prosperity on both sides of the border,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, who attended the launch event. “We’ve built that strong bond through the exchange of goods and we’re now seeing that expand to high-level services that cross the border thanks to the digital era we live in. This new study proves that free trade is working for our mega-region and why continued collaboration is so important.”

Read the full study here; also available in Spanish here.

For more research from San Diego Regional EDC – World Trade Center San Diego’s parent organization – please visit: sandiegobusiness.org/research-center.

The report was produced by World Trade Center San Diego, with research support from Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy. The research was underwritten by SAMSUNG.

 

July 6, 2018

The California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) is an income tax credit program available to California businesses expanding or relocating to the state of California. Negotiated by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), the California Competes Tax Credit program has awarded more than $600 million in credits to nearly 1,000 California companies since the program’s inception in 2014. In FY17-18 round alone, the state granted more than $194 million in credits.

Each year, the state grants a series of tax credit awards over three rounds: November, April, and June. The completion of the June 2018 round marked the end of the FY17-18 program. Throughout the three rounds of FY17-18, credits were awarded to more than 182 California companies, which are projected to create more than 15,000 jobs and invest more than $2 billion in the state over the next five years.

In the FY17-18 program, 33 San Diego companies were awarded more than $24.4 million in tax credits for the creation of 1,900 new jobs and investments totaling $151 million in San Diego. Compared to other metros in California, San Diego claimed more than 33 percent of the total credits for the fiscal year, the second highest amount of credits in the State.

Businesses are separated into small and large business categories, and more small businesses in San Diego won credits than large. Throughout the fiscal year, 17 small businesses were awarded more than $6 million in tax credits. These small companies will create nearly 300 new jobs and invest $60 million into the local economy over the next five years. More than 22 percent of credits in the small business category we’re awarded to San Diego companies.

One of those small business recipients in the latest round, Urban Translations, was awarded $750,000 in credits for commitments to create 61 new jobs and invest $144,000 in San Diego, with consulting provided by EDC and WTC San Diego. Based in Point Loma, Urban Translations is a local startup that creates digital, interactive menus for the hospitality industry - available in any language. The company recently landed partnerships with Samsung and Google, positioning the company for rapid growth. Samantha Urban, the company’s CEO, intends to leverage savings from the Tax Credit program to convert many of her part-time employees to full time positions to support long-term growth in San Diego.

The next application round for the California Competes Tax Credit program will open Friday, July 30. For more information regarding the California Competes Tax Credit program or with assistance on your application, contact Jesse Gipe, senior economic development manager, EDC.

 

July 5, 2018

With and through our investors, EDC works to maximize San Diego’s economic competitiveness. Click through the links below to see how.

EDC's Q2 in review

Regional Support

EDC convenes resources and stakeholder groups to help talent and a diversity of companies thrive in the San Diego mega-region. The economic development team led and advised on a variety of projects with the following outcomes: 

WTC San Diego

As part of EDC, World Trade Center San Diego (WTC) works to cultivate a pipeline of export-ready firms, maximize FDI opportunities, and grow the region's global connectivity.

The WTC team connected local businesses and industry leaders to foreign markets. Here's how:

San Diego: Life. Changing.

EDC's marketing efforts serve to elevate the region as a top destination for talent, business, and investment.

As part of the San Diego: Life. Changing. campaign, EDC's marketing-communications team debuted the following to equip businesses with the resources necessary to 'sell' the region:

Research

Understanding our economy begins with strong data. EDC develops economic reports to help business and civic leaders make informed decisions.

Our research team released the following economic reports in Q2:

 

See the full Quarterly Report here.

TAGS
July 2, 2018

Are you a growing, San Diego-based company? Are you looking to expand into foreign markets? Or, are you a defense contractor looking to diversify revenue? San Diego Regional EDC can help.
 
Apply now to EDC's business support programs - MetroConnect and/or the Defense Innovation Voucher Program - which offer $10K-$15K grants and programmatic services to support your business' growth.

 
The details:
  • MetroConnect, World Trade Center San Diego’s flagship export assistance program, is now in its fourth year. Made possible through a grant provided by JPMorgan Chase & Co., small to mid-sized companies in San Diego will receive a $10K grant and programmatic services to assist with international expansion efforts. Learn more.
  • As part of the Department of Defense-funded Propel San Diego grant, the Defense Innovation Voucher Program will provide San Diego headquartered defense companies with $15K in consulting services in one of the following categories: marketing, strategic planning, accounting compliance, lean supply chain analysis and additive manufacturing, and certifications, as well as additional hands-on training for companies looking to diversify revenue. Learn more.
 
The application can be accessed here from July 2 - August 20, 2018.

 

June 28, 2018

In an effort to maximize the region’s global competitiveness via talent attraction, EDC launched the San Diego: Life. Changing. brand campaign last year. The campaign serves to raise San Diego’s profile by telling real stories of the people and companies that call San Diego home. By bringing light to San Diego’s robust innovation ecosystem and vibrant entrepreneurial community, EDC aims to eliminate the stigma that there aren’t jobs in San Diego.

Most people around the world know San Diego as a vacation destination, rather than a place where they actually live and grow their careers. Part of this could be attributed to a ‘too good to be true’ mentality, with San Diego’s impeccable weather, endless outdoor activities, and friendly easy-going residents. It doesn’t seem possible to get both one’s dream job and the top-tier quality of life that San Diego offers. But those who have made the move to San Diego know that is, in fact, not the case. San Diego may not be a headquarters town, but the mission-driven companies located here are making huge, ‘life-changing’ impacts in both the tech and life sciences industries. And better yet, they’re hiring.

As part of the campaign’s latest web developments, there is now an interactive company map that showcases top tech, life sciences, and lifestyle companies in San Diego. This allows people to easily compare and contrast the different companies located here at a high-level, so they can get a holistic view of San Diego’s career offerings.

If you are part of a San Diego company that meets this criteria and would like to be added to the map, simply sign up for the online recruitment toolkit and select ‘I’d like to also add a profile for my company.’

From Illumina’s human genome sequencing technology to Aira’s software for the visually impaired, San Diego companies are quite literally changing the world. Visit the San Diego: Life. Changing. company map to see other top companies that are fueling global innovation from right in our backyard.

 

June 27, 2018

So far, 2018 has been a year of transition for EDC. Research performed through a partnership with the Brookings Institution led us to some startling findings about how inequality and affordability pose a threat to the San Diego region’s economic competitiveness. These findings helped to build a case for if and how an economic development organization (EDO) can play a role in region-wide efforts to promote an inclusive economy. Organizations across San Diego have been working for decades with much avail to elevate underrepresented populations, bolster small businesses, and improve quality of life for more local residents. But where does an economic development organization fit in?

For more than 50 years, EDC has been the voice of the business community – lauding the accomplishments of our life sciences, tech, and defense industries. The success of San Diego’s innovation economy has positioned the region for sustainable growth, but in an economy nearing full employment, even the most cutting-edge businesses struggle to find and retain the workers they need to remain competitive.

A strong economy is an inclusive economy, in which residents, businesses, and communities all have the opportunity to contribute and reap the benefits of growth. Over the last quarter, a regional steering committee, supported by technical advisory groups, has embarked on an ambitious effort to develop and drive an agenda that points the region toward a more inclusive economy, and thus, a stronger economy. This agenda will articulate the economic imperative for taking action, identify broad regional goals, and provide concrete recommendations around three pillars of influence: building a strong local talent pipeline, increasing small business competitiveness, and increasing affordability. This process is one that will not be accomplished overnight, but here’s an update on EDC’s progress, followed by some engagement opportunities for those ready to take action now.

Progress update:

  • Inclusive growth steering committee: made up of more than 40 leaders representing academia, nonprofit, and private sector. The steering committee convened for its second gathering to set a regional target for the first pillar of the inclusive growth strategy: building a strong, local talent pipeline. This regional target aims to increase the number of post-secondary degree holders by 2030. Details to come.
  • Advisory group on a creating a strong local talent pipeline: To arrive at this target for building a strong local talent pipeline, the steering committee was informed by an advisory group of 15 subject-matter experts, who met for three working sessions in Q2. These sessions were filled with data-driven discussions on skills, workforce requirements, demographic shifts, and more to help the steering committee arrive at a regional target.
  • Advisory group on small business competitiveness: To begin strategizing for the second pillar of this effort, the advisory group on increasing small business competitiveness met in Q2, as well. To inform this process, EDC, in partnership with the Small Business Development Center, has deployed a mass small business needs assessment survey to better understand challenges facing small business owners. The small business advisory group will analyze survey results to inform a regional target for increasing small business competitiveness. Take the survey here.

Engagement opportunities:

Building an employer-led coalition on inclusive growth will take time and collaboration across multiple industries, nonprofits, academia, and philanthropy. EDC is working hard with our partners and stakeholders to ensure we remain thoughtful and strategic in addressing these regional challenges. That said – we understand you may be tired of talking and ready to take action. Below are just a few opportunities to engage.

  1. Provide a San Diego small business the opportunity to increase its competitiveness through a free coaching program by nominating a small business for the Inner City Capital Connections Program, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.
  2. Help us better understand the challenges facing our small businesses by taking the small business needs assessment survey.
  3. Showcase career paths for San Diego’s students by hosting a virtual tour as a part of Cajon Valley School District’s World of Work program or contact Ed Hidalgo, Chief Innovation and Engagement Officer at Cajon Valley Union School District - hidalgoe@cajonvalley.net.

We’re just getting started; much more to come. Learn more.

By Kate Gallagher, economic development coordinator

June 25, 2018

After Thermo Fisher Scientific opened its software development center of excellence in September 2016, the technical capabilities of Tijuana’s workforce have caught the attention of numerous San Diego companies. One of those companies is Red Door Interactive (RDI), a San Diego-based digital marketing firm poised for rapid growth. Rather than growing its team in Indonesia, RDI approached EDC with a preference to expand closer to its headquarters in downtown San Diego. EDC worked with RDI over the proceeding months to assess the company’s needs and get leadership acquainted with the Tijuana market.  

RDI’s leadership was encouraged by the success of Thermo Fisher’s software center, which grew from 40 to more than 250 employees over two years. However, Thermo Fisher’s line of work ranges greatly from RDI’s, which is focused on SEO optimization, web development, and data analytics. The digital marketing industry is highly competitive, and subject to cost pressures and workload fluctuations. To keep with demand, RDI needed a solution that allowed it to increase agility and scale its staffing capability without greatly increasing overhead.  

After meeting with RDI’s leadership, EDC organized a site visit to showcase numerous software development operations in Tijuana. Alongside EDC, the company toured examples of different operational models including BIT Center, MindHub Tech Incubator, and Thermo Fisher. These companies shared insight on talent availability and resources. RDI’s leadership left the site visit impressed and ready to move ahead. To move quickly on an expansion, EDC and Tijuana EDC facilitated an introduction between RDI and IVEMSA, a Tijuana shelter company that works with U.S. companies to simplify the process of establishing an operation in Mexico.

Soon thereafter, RDI and IVEMSA toured through several available office locations, ultimately selecting one to begin operations. RDI is currently opening their Tijuana operation, investing more than $40,000 and achieving an immediate three percent growth in employment, with projections for growth up to 15 percent.

"Thanks to the EDC, Red Door Interactive is now expanding our footprint in the broader San Diego-Tijuana region. EDC made the daunting process incredibly approachable by walking us through the process every step of the way,” said Reid Carr, CEO, Red Door Interactive. “They facilitated site exploration and establishment via critical and vetted introductions and they provided valuable information to support our decisions. We can now capitalize this diverse regional asset to complement our established presence in San Diego.”