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Big Picture San Diego Blog

March 20, 2018

In January 2018, WTC San Diego compiled a report for the Port of San Diego comparing trucking companies’ shipping prices to more than 20 destinations throughout the Southwest. The report included an assessment of conditions that currently cause spikes in shipping prices, including inclement weather, regulatory changes, and a shortage of drivers. Data shows, at the start of 2018, just one truck was available in the U.S. for every 12 loads needing to be shipped.

The report painted a clearer picture on the competitiveness of shipping from the Port of San Diego compared to the Port of Long Beach. The information will assist the Port in providing service to its tenants and inform its work to attract ocean liners.

March 16, 2018

The Duane Roth Renaissance Award is named in memory of a beloved community leader who tirelessly championed San Diego's innovation ecosystem and reframed how we view our economic diversity. This award recognizes an organization whose work is creating outstanding inventions, innovations or breakthroughs that have changed and improved the world around us. 

We are deeply honored to announce Sempra Energy as the 2018 Honoree of the Duane Roth Renaissance Award, presented by:

Sempra Energy is a San Diego-based Fortune 500 energy services holding company with an enviable track record of growth over its 20-year history. Sempra Energy provides safe, reliable energy through its regulated utilities and energy infrastructure businesses to approximately 43 million consumers worldwide with 20,000 employees, including the company’s most recent acquisition of a majority stake in Oncor, the largest utility in Texas. Major initiatives include system modernization, decarbonization and electrification, as well as innovative strategies to minimize impacts on the environment and maximize the deployment of cleaner energy sources.


Please join us at SeaWorld on May 31 to celebrate Sempra and more. Register here.

March 13, 2018

On Monday, local leaders converged to celebrate a true San Diego success story: Forge Therapeutics. The biotech startup is doubling its local footprint and just became the newest tenant at Alexandria Real Estate’s Torrey Ridge Science Center.

World Trade Center San Diego and EDC first learned of Forge during its trade mission to the U.K. in October 2017. In London, CEO Zak Zimmerman announced a partnership with the U.K. team at Evotec, dubbed the BLACKSMITH platform. The international partnership allows Forge to work around the clock to brings its life-saving science to market.

In the U.S. alone, more than 23,000 die annually due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or ‘superbugs.’ Forge Therapeutics is changing that through the creation of a novel class of antibiotics that are targeting gram-negative bacteria, a class of bacteria with ‘bulletproof’ membranes that are resistant to traditional antibacterial interventions. The secret behind the life-saving science lies in metal-dependent enzymes or metalloenzymes. Zimmerman’s team has assumed the role of the blacksmiths of modern medicine; they are using chemistry to target these naturally occurring metals that help combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Forge’s expansion comes at a time when telling the story of innovative, expanding companies is more important than ever.

"The national rhetoric around trade has not made it easy for businesses to create international partnerships, but supporting local companies as they expand overseas leads to economic growth and creates jobs here in San Diego. I hope that success stories, like Forge's and other groundbreaking companies in San Diego, can help change that," added Rep. Scott Peters, who was on site to provide remarks during the ribbon cutting.

San Diego already holds a reputation as a biotech powerhouse, but it’s true competitive edge lies in its ability to engineer and take life-saving treatments to market. San Diego civic leaders remained committed to fostering an environment where companies can continue to succeed.

By expanding its footprint and doubling its workforce, Forge is strengthening our city's reputation as a leader in medical research and innovation. Success stories like this demonstrate how important it is that we are creating the kind of environment where companies like this can grow and thrive," said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

(Left photo: Mayor Faulconer receiving Forge-branded pitch fork from CEO Zak Zimmerman.)

But for Zimmerman and Forge, San Diego has been part of its DNA. Nearly three years ago, Zimmerman met UC San Diego professor Seth Cohen with a chance meeting on a soccer field. The initial technology for Forge was based on more than 15 years of leading research Cohen, spearheaded at UC San Diego. Much of the company’s funding and scientific board also has San Diego roots.

"We are extremely proud to be growing our footprint in San Diego. This biotechnology ecosystem consisting of groundbreaking science, educated investors, strategic advisors and local supporters has allowed us to thrive and expand in ways that we couldn't have imagined," Zimmerman said.

During a Fireside chat with San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Bradley Fikes, Zimmerman spoke a bit more about his decision to grow in San Diego. “Yeah, Boston and San Francisco are known for science, but we wanted to be in a place where people wanted to live and we can attract scientists with 10-20 years experience,” said Zimmerman.

Part of Forge’s growth is due to Alexandria Real Estate. Alexandria Investment Partners, the real estate company’s venture arm, backed Forge’s Series A. Now, they are providing Forge with more than 7,000 sq ft of office and lab space. But to Alexandria, it’s about creating an experience that helps companies foster life-saving innovation. “When you have a good feeling about your physical space, it makes you want to work hard,” said Zimmerman, of his new ARE office space.

March 5, 2018

This op-ed was first published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, authored by EDC's Mark Cafferty and Biocom's Joe Panetta.

Largely due to its recent marketing campaign, Qualcomm is recognized by San Diegans as the company that puts the “smart” in our smartphones. But behind the billboards, there is a deeper story about how this homegrown San Diego company became the world’s largest smartphone chipmaker while redefining corporate citizenship and putting our region on the map as a tech and life sciences powerhouse.

Qualcomm is the quintessential San Diego story, but to understand its true impact you need to understand its origin: In 1966, Irwin Jacobs came to San Diego to take a job at UC San Diego. Two years later, he founded Linkabit — a telecom company specializing in government contracts — that served as a precursor to Qualcomm. In 1985, Qualcomm was officially founded by five individuals in Jacobs’ La Jolla home.
 
Fast forward more than 32 years, and Qualcomm is San Diego’s largest publicly traded company, employing nearly 13,000 locally. As a global company, it has offices on nearly every continent, yet its headquarters has remained in San Diego.
 
A recent economic impact analysis conducted by San Diego Regional EDC found that Qualcomm added $4.9 billion in economic activity to the San Diego region in 2017 alone — the equivalent of hosting 35 San Diego Comic-Cons. Additionally, every job at Qualcomm supports an additional 1.8 jobs in the San Diego region.
 
Qualcomm has led by example, with its founder, leaders, employees and alumni creating new companies, teaching at our schools, hiring our local population, advocating for positive public policy steps, and accelerating the growth of San Diego’s innovation economy.
 
While Qualcomm is a wireless company, its focus on connected devices and the internet of things has impacted nearly every high tech industry, from healthcare to smart cities. Qualcomm/Linkabit alumni have gone on to start or sell their inventions to major companies including Viasat, Leap Wireless, Kyocera, Motorola, Ericsson and more. Qualcomm Ventures has proved a vital backer of San Diego startups including Edico Genome and Brain Corp., and is a key player in the rise of telemedicine. Today, San Diego stands as the third most patent-intense region in the U.S., not only due to the intellectual property the chipmaker has developed and the innovation it has catalyzed throughout the region but also due to its relentless advocacy for intellectual property rights for all industries.
 
Its work in the San Diego community starts long before one steps foot on Qualcomm’s campus. Spend one day at its Thinkabit Lab™ — a part art studio, part engineering lab that is introducing middle school students to careers in technology — and learn how it has transformed the way students from all backgrounds think about the world of work. The successful program has been expanded to schools in Chula Vista, San Diego and Vista.
 
Everyone has a story about how Qualcomm has affected our community. In fact, we kicked off the #QualCOMMUNITY campaign with the support of Mayor Kevin Faulconer, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders so San Diegans can share their story about the company’s impact. From the Old Globe to the San Diego Symphony to the new Central Library to our world-class universities, Qualcomm’s impact can be seen and felt across our region.
 
Qualcomm has given San Diego an opportunity to reinvent itself. It has been an anchor as we have transformed from a military town to an innovation hub and one of the top biotech clusters in the world. Qualcommers go to bat for San Diego. As employees, they define the next frontier of invention. As residents, they spend money at our businesses and enliven our neighborhoods; and as philanthropists, they donate millions to our universities and causes.
 
While the specifics around the deal are in flux, most everyone is aware that the homegrown wireless giant has been in conversations with Broadcom, a competing telecommunications company, about a potential merger.
 
Shareholders and regulators will decide what happens next, but outside the boardroom, this culture of innovation, collaboration, and community will always remain core to the San Diego story.
 
It’s a story that many companies and people, in San Diego and beyond, can learn a lot from.
 
Cafferty is president & CEO of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. Panetta is president & CEO of Biocom.
March 2, 2018

The impact of Qualcomm's philanthropy and technology has been widespread and has created a global benchmark for how companies innovate, operate, and engage with their community. 

You don’t have to look far to find someone that works for Qualcomm. They are our friends, family, mentors, and neighbors. And they provide a tremendous boost to our regional economy. 

What happens next is in the hands of shareholders, but ahead of the vote, many San Diegans are sharing how the company has impacted our region, our companies, and our economy.

Check them out below.

Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC

Peter Callstrom, president & CEO, San Diego Workforce Partnership 

Mary Walshok, Associate Vice Chancellor, UC San Diego Extension 

Dennis Arriola, EVP, Corporate Strategy and External Affairs, Sempra Energy 

Ken Davenport, president & CEO, Mission Edge

Nancy Jamison, president & CEO, San Diego Grantmakers

 

Jim Zortman, EDC board chair | vice admiral (ret.), US Navy
 
 
Jerry Sanders, president & CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Rory Moore, CEO & CO-founder, EvoNexus
 
Julie Meier Wright, retired president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC
 
Linden Blue, co-owner & vice-chair, General Atomics
 
John Valencia, president & CEO, Voices for Children
 
Blair Salder, former president, Rady Children's Hospital, and chair, Access Youth Academy
 
Jay Hill, CEO, San Diego Public Library Foundation

Do you have a #QualCOMMUNITY story? Tweet us at @SdregionalEDC and we might share it. We'll be adding to this post. 

 

 

February 28, 2018

By Kate Gallagher, economic development coordinator 

With the largest concentration of military assets in the world and the largest federal military workforce in the country, it’s no surprise that San Diego has the 3rd highest population of veterans in the United States.

Each year, more than 20,000 Sailors and Marines stationed in San Diego leave military service, a third of whom are expected to stay in the San Diego community. Individuals transitioning to civilian life are trained, team oriented, and hardworking, but can also face challenges adjusting to life outside the military structure and regime. According to the National Veterans Transition Service Inc. (NVTSI), “81 percent of transitioning military personnel do not feel fully prepared for the process of entering the job market.”

There are countless support services to help veterans through their transition, but navigating the programs and resources can be a daunting challenge. To provide a fresh perspective and tackle the transition experience through an educational lens, the University of San Diego, in partnership with EDC, hosted its third annual Military Transition Conference. The USD Military Transition Conference focused on translating military experience into skills and knowledge applicable to a wide variety of industries, and addressed key questions military personnel and veterans have around educational benefits, job hunting, and more.

Attended by more than 75 veterans and their dependents, the conference showcased opportunities for veterans to continue meaningful, innovation-driven work in San Diego. The day kicked off with a keynote address by Maurice Wilson, president and executive director of NVTSI and creator of REBOOT, a cohort-based program designed for transitioning military to develop skills necessary for successful reintegration into civilian life. Following the keynote were a series of breakout sessions where participants could get their resumes reviewed, speak one-on-one with industry representatives, or get coached on job search strategies. Finally, a panel of veterans – representing Bank of America, SONY, Intuit, TaylorMade Golf, and Sentek Global – wrapped up the conference by sharing their transition stories into successful careers across tech, finance, and manufacturing.

With veterans representing nearly 10 percent of San Diego’s population, the development of this important pool of talent is pertinent to San Diego’s economic success. EDC will continue to support the veteran ecosystem, helping to elevate local opportunities for transitioning military. 

 

February 28, 2018

Last Friday, San Diego hosted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, as a follow up to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and WTC San Diego's "World's Greenest Cities” trade mission to Vancouver, Canada.

The day began with a public Mayoral Forum on North American Competitiveness and Sustainability, held at the University Club in downtown. Mayor Faulconer and Mayor Robertson were joined by City of Tijuana COO, Bernabe Esquer, in a moderated discussion on cross-border cooperation and city leadership in economic and environmental issues. The event was attended by more than 100 civic and business leaders.

Building on the theme of sustainability, Mayor Robertson was taken on a tour of San Diego-based Measurabl, the company responsible for the world’s fastest growing sustainability software for commercial buildings and facilities. The local startup develops cloud-based software that collects data on energy consumption, creates investment-grade sustainability reports and alerts companies to improvement opportunities for added efficiency. The company visit showcased how San Diego companies play a leading role in developing green technologies that get adopted around the world.

Mayor Robertson left that evening for the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City with much report on his visit to life-changing San Diego. At the forefront: San Diego’s working relationship with Tijuana can be a model for border cities like Vancouver in addressing issues that span national boundaries.

 

February 23, 2018

A world leader in 3G, 4G and 5G wireless technologies, Qualcomm is San Diego County’s largest publicly traded company. The locally-grown company has, quite literally, put the smart in our smart phones.

More than that though, Qualcomm has poured into the San Diego community. Its innovation and investment in this region has catalyzed life-changing developments in robotics, unmanned systems and mobile health, as well as inspired more than 3,300 students to pursue careers in STEM through its Thinkabit Lab.

And as Qualcomm juggles an unsolicited offer from Broadcom and a record-breaking acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, there is no denying that this San Diego tech innovator has shaped the region's economy and connected millions across the globe.

EDC recently produced an economic impact assessment of Qualcomm, based on 2017 data. The numbers:

  • In 2017, the total economic impact of Qualcomm on the San Diego region’s economy was an estimated $4.9 billion. This is equivalent to 35 Comic-Cons.
  • While Qualcomm directly employs 13,000 people locally, Qualcomm’s presence in the region impacts an estimated 36,050 jobs when considering direct, indirect and induced effects (expenditures of production, B2B spending and local spending of wages by employees and other businesses).
  • Every dollar generated directly by Qualcomm results in an increase of almost $2 in the San Diego region’s GDP.
  • In 2017, Qualcomm impacted approximately $3.4 billion in wages in the regional economy.
  • In 2017, Qualcomm impacted an estimated $7.9 billion in economic activity (output).

EDC will release the full economic impact assessment on Qualcomm in April. Stay tuned.

Follow along and share your support with #QualCOMMUNITY.

 

February 21, 2018

Recovering from a decrease in employment during Q3 2017, San Diego, and the overwhelming majority of the most populous metros, experienced an increase in employment during Q4 2017. The region’s total nonfarm employment grew 22,100, or 1.5 percent during the quarter. Compared to a year ago, nonfarm employment was up 21,100, or 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, San Diego’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in Q4, the lowest the region has seen in the last 17 years and down from 4.1 percent in Q3.

Key findings from the Quarterly Economic Snapshot:

  • San Diego closed Q4 2017 with an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent, the 7th lowest among top U.S. metros and below the state rate of 4.2 percent.
  • With the holiday season in full bloom, the retail sector continued to grow, adding 7,500 jobs in Q4. Other strong contributors to the quarterly employment growth were professional, scientific, and technical services and state and local government, together adding 13,200 jobs.
  • The median home price rose slightly from the previous quarter, and is now up 7.4 percent compared to a year ago.
  • VC dollars in the region increased 33 percent compared to a year ago.

The Quarterly Economic Snapshot analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. This releases includes data from October to December (Q4) 2017.

Read it here, and see our research center for more.

February 15, 2018

Today, EDC launched a data-driven initiative to drive economic growth and inclusion in the region. Catalyzed by San Diego’s participation in the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program learning lab in 2017, EDC released research that highlights the region’s economic pain points and necessity for an employer-led approach to tackling inclusivity issues.

Despite record-low unemployment and a renowned innovation ecosystem, San Diego has an inclusion problem that cannot be ignored,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “Small businesses cannot compete with larger corporations, while one million people cannot afford to live here. This initiative is a call to action for San Diego’s employers – we must come together to bridge the gaps in our economy.”

While the rise of the innovation economy has created wealth and opportunity across the region, it has also widened economic inequalities. If San Diego does not change its status quo, the region will lose employees and companies to other regions. 

Key facts:

With the combination of a high cost of living, low educational attainment in our fastest growing population and a small business-centric economy that struggles to pay competitive wages, it is imperative that San Diego employers take action to promote economic inclusion.

Convened by EDC, a Steering Committee of local employers will work to create an actionable platform to achieve three goals: close the minority achievement gap; equip small businesses to compete; and address the affordability crisis. The committee consists of nearly 40 local employers including Northrop Grumman, Solar Turbines, Sempra, Thermo Fisher Scientific, San Diego Padres and more.

Inclusion is not a philanthropy issue. This is about economic competitiveness, and San Diego’s employers must lead the charge in addressing inequity in our local workforce, said Janice Brown, founder and owner, Brown Law Group, and incoming board chair, San Diego Regional EDC. “But if any region can change and reinvent itself, it’s this one.” 

If the region intends to compete in the global market, employers and economic development leaders must work to ensure all workers have equal opportunity to thrive. While talent attraction efforts are necessary in an increasingly global economy, San Diego must ensure its future workforce is prepared for jobs in the innovation economy and recognize opportunity within its local talent pool.

To view the research summary, click here.

Over the next year, EDC and the Steering Committee will produce ongoing research and develop actionable recommendations to inclusive economic development in San Diego that will be updated on sandiegobusiness.org/inclusivegrowth.

The initiative launched at an event hosted by EDC at the Jackie Robinson YMCA, with special guest Amy Liu, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, at the Brookings Institution.

Other partners and organizations are making progress as well. On February 27, National University and the San Diego Workforce Partnership are hosting Dr. Raj Chetty, leading impact economist from Stanford University, and the author of research that inspired much of the focus on inclusion, nationally.  He will discuss social mobility markers and the link between mobility and economic growth. To RSVP for the event, click here.