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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

August 22, 2016

Every so often San Diego Regional EDC takes an influential group of civic leaders to a peer city to better understand its economic development best practices and bring ideas back home to replicate. This time, we're headed to Nashville, Tennessee to find out what America’s Finest City learn from the Music City. In preparation for the October trip, EDC recently sent a team down south to scout meetings and spokespeople who can speak to philosophies and best practices that have served Nashville well. Here are just a few topics on the upcoming trip agenda:
 
  • First, it’s clear that Nashville mayoral leadership has consistently focused on education, public safety and economic development over a number of administrations.
  • Second, Nashville has made investments to make the City a premier destination. Nashville has built arenas now home to pro football and pro hockey franchises, constructed a new home for the Country Music Hall of Fame, and opened a new downtown convention center, as well as the Frist Center for Visual Arts - all of which has occurred in the past 20 years. The City is now making a bid for a major league soccer team.   
  • The City is also focused on regionalism – the collaboration between area government bodies for the overall good of the region. The Nashville mayor not only oversees the City but also Davidson County, an area about twice the size with half the population of San Diego County. Streamlining government processes and policies has improved development services and transportation infrastructure planning. 
  • In a timely response to President Obama’s call for honest conversations about race relations in communities across America, Mayor Megan Barry is partnering with Lipscomb University's College of Leadership & Public Service and others to host forums with the community to address race, equity and leadership in the Nashville community.
 
Mayor Barry and an outstanding group of civic leaders have committed to speak to our San Diego delegation next month. Learn more about the trip details and agenda topics here. If interested in participating, contact Raquel Elbachri for more information.
 
August 19, 2016

As increasing costs and traffic have made headlines around the country, the Bay Area has been top of mind to many of those in economic development. We’ve seen stories indicating a third of Bay Area residents want to leave the region, making it ripe for other states to recruit companies and talent. Yet, economic developers from San Francisco to Oakland and San Jose are confident they can overcome challenges and continue to be world’s leading innovation engine. So what can San Diego learn?

This week, EDC and nine San Diego economic and workforce development practitioners spent two days in San Francisco with our Bay Area peers to find out. Meetings covered a range of topics including:

  • General understanding of the history of the Bay Area innovation boom
  • Regional collaboration models
  • Tech transfer and acceleration as economic drivers
  • Implementing technology within cities to boost efficiency and capability
  • Building a tech ecosystem
  • Collaborating to prepare a regional workforce
  • Working across departments to ease strain on business

Coming out of discussions with more than 25 Bay Area peers, it’s clear there is much San Diego can learn from our northern California counterparts. The region is certainly not without its challenges and many of the news we’ve read about Bay Area economic struggles were validated while there. But as Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute put it, “We have a culture of lawlessness here that drives people to find solutions.” He was talking about the entrepreneurial mindset that has driven innovation throughout the 101 city, 9 county region. That mindset has seen Google and Facebook to overcome traffic challenges by operating private bus fleets and ferry services for their employees that rival most transportation agencies. It has seen workforce investment boards establish partnerships that cut across multiple regions to better serve the population being displaced to cheaper locations further East. It has seen the development and implementation of new technologies meant to ease the launch of new startups. Lastly, it has shown that through innovative and out-of-the-box thinking, any challenge can be overcome.

As we breakdown all we learned from the best practices trip, it’s clear that the San Diego region is well-positioned to continue its evolution as a tech ecosystem – not one that mirrors or rivals Silicon Valley, but one that stands alone with its own set of strengths. 

August 19, 2016

With just under two months to San Diego Manufacturing Day, we’re kicking off a five-part blog series on San Diego-made products you didn’t know were made right in our backyard. Here are five of some of your favorite products #MadeinSD:

  1. WD-40 – If you’ve fixed a squeaky door, greased a bike chain or worked on cars, chances are you’ve used WD-40. Founded as a chemical company in 1953, WD-40 Company remains a staple in San Diego manufacturing. Gary Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40 explains, “San Diego is a good city to be in if you’re in international business, as I can be on a call with London in the morning and with Shanghai in the afternoonWe like to say ‘the sun never sets on WD-40.”
  2. TaylorMade golf clubs – PGA Tour pros like Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia can be seen swinging TaylorMade clubs in tournaments watched by millions almost weekly. Best known for innovating metal drivers starting in 1979, TaylorMade remains the largest golf equipment and apparel company in the world. Fore!
  3. Taylor Guitars – Used by world-famous musicians including Jason Mraz  and Taylor Swift, Taylor Guitars – located in San Diego’s East County – is the world’s leading guitar manufacturer. With operations on both sides of the border, Taylor maintains a high-level of quality control over its products.
  4. Stone Brewing craft beer– The recognizable gargoyle and award-winning beer from Stone has made waves for taking on “corporate beer”. Started in North County in 1996, Stone now boasts seven locations including a newly opened brewery in Berlin. Cheers! 
  5. Illumina's instruments for genetic sequencing – Recently named the “Google of Genetic Testing”, Illumina has taken over San Diego’s UTC business center which houses the company’s worldwide headquarters and more than 2,000 employees. More than 90 percent of the world’s genetic sequencing is done on Illumina instruments.

Stay tuned for our next list: five #MadeinSD products used by the world’s top athletes

Celebrate with us October 7. Visit sdmfgday.com to get involved. 

August 5, 2016

This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf joined a panel of local business leaders from Solar Turbines, Solatube and Northrop Grumman to unveil UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy’s new study on the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the nation and San Diego. The summary, “San Diego and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” produced by World Trade Center San Diego, explains how San Diego’s unique economic assets position the region to realize relatively greater benefits from TPP than the U.S. as a whole.

TPP, an international trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, seeks to lower trade barriers for exporters and increase intellectual property protections for multinational companies.

San Diego’s prime location on the edge of the Pacific Rim, as well its specialization in advanced manufacturing and other key industries tied to the innovation economy – including scientific R&D, engineering, software and cybersecurity – position the region to benefit disproportionately from TPP.

Key findings include:

  • When compared to other TPP member countries, the U.S. has one of the least restrictive markets – it is easier for foreign markets to export to the U.S. than it is for U.S. companies to send their products abroad.
  • More than 97 percent of San Diego’s exports – primarily high-value advanced manufacturing products – are sold in TPP markets and are collectively worth $22 billion.
  • Enhanced IP protections would benefit San Diego’s innovation economy; San Diego is the third most patent intensive region in the world and five times more specialized in scientific R&D than the nation as a whole.
  • Increased export growth could produce real rising wages for 150,000 high-wage jobs in the region’s manufacturing and innovation sectors.
  • San Diego’s service-providing sector – generally non-traded industries accounting for 87 percent of total employment – is largely insulated from foreign competition. 
August 4, 2016

This is part of a weekly series featuring a profile on one of the 2016 MetroConnect Program companies. MetroConnect is dedicated to helping local San Diego businesses go global and is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

With a metro ranking of #3 for cleantech leadership and one of the few cities in the world aiming for 100 percent clean energy utilization by 2035, it’s no surprise that San Diego is a hotbed of green and sustainable tech innovation. And with this year’s MetroConnect cohort representing an impressive cross-section of the region’s burgeoning industries, we’ve found a strong example of said innovation in LED lighting company Hyperikon.

Sorrento Valley-based Hyperikon’s mission statement is a simple one – Greener. Cheaper. Smarter. When creating their sustainable lighting solutions for both home and office, quality is the company’s top consideration. Distributed primarily via Amazon’s online channels, Hyperikon’s products have been met with rave reviews – so much so, that Hyperikon’s products were the online giant’s top seller under the “Tools & Home Improvement” department earlier this year.

Jeppe Lisdorf, the company’s VP of finance, didn’t always envision a career in the cleantech sector. Hailing from Denmark, Lisdorf was originally trained as a journalist and later made the switch to banking on Wall Street. With an infectious smile and overwhelmingly positive attitude that makes one think he’d probably succeed in any industry he put his mind to, Lisdorf notes that his Danish roots were a deciding factor in his move into the green lighting space.

Lisdorf explains, “Many people here don’t know it, but Denmark has a huge cleantech cluster. When I was considering putting down roots in San Diego, I met with a fellow Dane who happened to be one of the founders of Hyperikon. Considering our shared experiences and the fact that sustainability has always been top of mind for me, it seemed like an interesting opportunity to help grow a unique and important technology.

Considering its success with Amazon domestically, Hyperikon plans to utilize the MetroConnect grant, in part, to help boost its activities with the online retailers in other countries, including Mexico, Canada and eventually Japan. And with sales activity strong, Hyperikon is beginning to think about capacity expansion, both from a customer service and warehousing perspective. With the market for LED lighting showing no signs of slowing down, Hyperikon is well positioned to continue its impressive growth streak and be a valued example of San Diego’s cleantech scene.

 

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Program, companies such as Hyperikon are to be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts, as well as additional support services including: a dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period; access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing; reduced airfare on Japan Airlines direct flights from San Diego to Tokyo; free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs; and consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016.

July 28, 2016

By Nikia Clarke, Director, World Trade Center San Diego

This week, World Trade Center San Diego spent a whirlwind few days in Tokyo celebrating the launch of a UC San Diego office and workspace in the heart of the life sciences hub in downtown Tokyo, Japan. The workspace will promote collaborations between UC San Diego researchers – and the larger San Diego business ecosystem – and research, education and industry partners in Japan.

Located in the region’s largest trade and investment market, the facility represents how San Diego continues to lead with its research and innovation in building global connectivity and competitiveness.

As a collaboration between the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the UC San Diego Office of Research Affairs, the Tokyo facility will serve as a home base for university faculty whose research brings them to Japan and as a venue for research symposia, networking events and alumni functions.

As is always the case in San Diego, the opening was founded in regional collaboration. I was proud to celebrate the opening alongside Sandra Brown, UC San Diego vice chancellor for research, dean of UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Al Pisano and Robert Sullivan, dean of UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management. It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet so many UC San Diego alumni, who are now in positions of influence throughout Japan’s major industries, and all are eager to build bridges back to San Diego.

“We are very pleased the office is located at the heart of the life sciences hub in Tokyo, a perfect fit for UC San Diego as our two cities are seen as world leaders in life sciences and biotechnology,” said Sandra Brown, UC San Diego Vice Chancellor for Research.

A big thank you to Rough Draft Brewing, one of this year’s MetroConnect companies, who provided some of San Diego’s finest craft beer for giveaway at the event. That’s the San Diego story: world-class research and innovation, paired with first-class enjoyment.

For more information, visit UC San Diego’s news release.

July 27, 2016

This is part of a weekly series featuring a profile on one of the 2016 MetroConnect Program companies. MetroConnect is dedicated to helping local San Diego businesses go global and is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

In a recent report released by California Life Sciences Association, $23 billion in California’s 2015 exports came from life sciences. With more than 1,100 companies and a total economic impact of more than $31.8 billion, it is no surprise that San Diego’s life science sector ranks 4th in the nation. Our next MetroConnect company profile features an innovative medical device company that plans to advance San Diego’s life science reputation abroad, AVACEN Medical.

In 2009, Tom Muehlbauer founded AVACEN Medical, a company that produces a medical device initially developed for his sister-in-law who suffered from chronic migraines. Through a micro-circulation mechanism, the AVACEN 100 provides non-invasive, temporary arthritis and muscle pain relief and relaxation. Cleared by the FDA, the device is an over the counter option that’s can be self-administered from the comfort of one’s own home.

Recognizing an opportunity to expand into the EU, AVACEN Medical plans to leverage the MetroConnect Grant Prize to help in obtaining their CE mark, as well as developing better ways of delivering their products to international markets. The company also plans to use the MetroConnect Program to expand their patent portfolio, particularly across Japan, Europe and South Korea.

Muehlbauer states, “Based on the early interest and success we’ve seen in the launch of the AVACEN 100, we’re excited to scale up and bring our product to an international customer base. Arthritis and muscle pain is something that affects millions around the world, and our participation in MetroConnect will allow our at-home solution to help more of those patients in need of relief.

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Program, companies such as AVACEN Medical are to be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts, as well as additional support services including: a dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period; access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing; reduced airfare on Japan Airlines direct flights from San Diego to Tokyo; free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs; and consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016.

July 22, 2016

Phil Blair

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“While June's unemployment rate climbed – a typical trend as educational workers tend to lose employment during summer  key sectors like leisure and hospitality, PST and PBS all experienced strong year-over-year growth. San Diego's unemployment rate continues to remains lower than statewide unemployment.”
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 June in addition to revised data for May 2016. This month’s data shows that San Diego's economy has slowed during the summer months; unemployment experienced an increase while total regional employment grew more slowly than previous months.  

June’s unemployment rate climbed back to 5.1 percent for the first time since October 2015; up 0.9 percentage points from a revised 4.2 percent in May. The unemployment rate is down 0.1 points from the previous year. San Diego’s unemployment rate continues to remain lower than statewide unemployment and is now on par with national unemployment rates of 5.7 and 5.1 percent, respectively.

San Diego’s rate rose in part due to an increase in the labor force. A familiar trend in the region this time of year as many public and private seasonal educational workers tend to lose employment during the summer months. Education accounted for nearly 1,000 jobs lost during May and June combined. Although a seasonal uptick in unemployment is common during the summer, the increase of 0.9 percentage points is significantly higher than seen in recent years. Additional job losses in finance and insurance in addition to health care and social assistance also contributed to the increase in unemployment.

Total nonfarm employment increased steadily since May, adding 8,000 jobs. More importantly, year-over-year nonfarm employment went up by 37,600, a 2.7 percent increase. The private sector drove employment growth in June, as private employment accounted for nearly 83.2 percent, or an increase of 31,300 jobs, of all employment growth over the year. The total private sector grew by 2.7 percent year-over-year.

 At the height of summer and peak tourism season, the region’s leisure and hospitality industry was the largest driver of regional employment growth, adding 5,400 jobs since May. Leisure and hospitality experienced strong year-over-year growth, adding 7,800 jobs, a 4.2 per

cent increase over the previous year, and contributing to 24.9 percent of private sector growth.

Professional, scientific and technical services (PST), a subset of professional and business services (PBS) and strongly associated with the region’s innovation economy, accounted for over 11.5 percent of private sector growth, adding 1,000 jobs since May.

While the June report released today showed increased unemployment in the region’s economy, which is in line with familiar seasonal trends, overall job growth was solid. Unemployment remains well below the state and year-over growth in the region was spread out across a variety of base sectors.

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

 

July 22, 2016

The California Competes Tax Credit is a program created by the California legislature and managed by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). The tax credits are awarded by the state to companies who are looking to move to, or stay and grow in, California. In the 2015-16 round, the state awarded more than $150 million in tax credits to 259 companies who pledged to create almost 20,986 jobs over the next five years.

Within each year of the Cal Competes program credits are awarded over three separate rounds. In the last round of the 2015-16 fiscal year of the program, which closed in June, San Diego companies captured $7 million in tax credits – the largest amount of tax credits in the state and 16 percent of the total allotted credits. San Diego received more than $1 million more in tax credits than the second-place region, El Centro – San Diego’s neighbor to the east.

Throughout the entire 2015-16 program (encompassing three rounds), the California Competes program granted 38 San Diego companies more than $19.7 million in tax credits – 13 percent of the total tax credits awarded and the second highest of all regions in the state. With this, local companies committed to the creation of 2,070 jobs over the next five years, which will result in more than $369 million in wages. Those same companies will be investing $214 million in a variety capital projects over that same period.

The program divides companies into either the small or large business category where companies compete separately for a tax credit. In San Diego, large businesses received 7.6 percent – or $11.6 million – of all tax credits for the 2015-16 year. The region’s small businesses were awarded $8 million in tax credits, or 5.32 percent of the year’s pool.              

The Cal Competes program will open its first round of the 2016-17 fiscal year on Monday, July 25 where $75 million of this year’s $250 million is up for grabs. If your business is considering relocating to, or expanding in, California, we encourage you to look at the program as tool to reduce your tax liability. Our team stands by to assist with applications, as we have with many other San Diego companies including Hunter Industries, Taylor Guitars and more.

Attend a workshop to learn how your business can apply for a tax credit, or contact Jesse Gipe for more information.

July 22, 2016

By Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC

Each time I have the opportunity to travel and represent our binational economy in foreign markets, I leave with new ideas, opportunities and connections that I see pay off for our region. My trip to London this past week will no doubt yield similar results. But I also can't help but feel like I was part of something bigger this time.

I began the trip as a proud member of the ProMexico Pavilion at the Farnborough International Airshow and Trade Show. Reminding the world's aerospace community of how actively San Diego supports Baja's robust aerospace/manufacturing economy is a role I am always excited to play. And while the legendary English rains put quite a damper on the first day of the show (flooding the trade show floors and completely knocking out electrical power), we still managed to pack in a lot of important meetings.

Returning bright and early for day two, we started off meeting with global manufacturer, Esterline to get an update on the status of their expansion efforts within Baja. Our mega region was out in full force as Baja Governor Francisco A. Vega de Lamadrid brought the newly elected mayors from Tijuana, Mexicali and Tecate together, along with Cristina Hermosillo (President of the Tijuana EDC) and I to talk about how we can continue to support the company from both sides of the border. The respect and support the delegation was able to convey to Esterline, and the company's clear appreciation and enthusiasm were worth the cost of the trip.

After this meeting, Cristina and I were able to get additional time with mayor-elect, Juan Manuel Gastelum of Tijuana, to develop a strategy to position the city as a software support hub and a key asset for San Diego's innovation economy. This meeting proved to be timely and important as well.

Between meetings and ceremonies at the Mexico Pavilion, I ventured out through the acres of trade show space to link up with representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, economic development colleagues from the State of Washington and local industry giants, Cubic and General Atomics. And as is often the case at Farnborough, a chance encounter on the ride back to London led to a new business relationship between an Italian-based supplier who Cristina and I stood next to on the train and a Baja-based manufacturer who was part of our delegation. Tri-national economic development at its best!

Days three and four were a whirlwind of walks, black cabs and tube rides through London. We were meeting with and feeling out various businesses and political leaders for the potential of a San Diego trade and investment mission in early 2017, led by Mayor Kevin Faulconer. The reception and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Despite the rather historic backdrop of both the Brexit and the appointment of a new female Prime Minister, the political and economic leadership in London is clearly not breaking stride. We met with representatives from Mayor Sadiq Khan's office and learned that climate change, economic inclusion and cross-border relationships—all hallmarks of our Mayor's administration in San Diego—are at the top of their London agenda. These items combined with a broader dialogue around data, open government and other "smart cities" topics will clearly make for a strong and timely series of meetings between the mayors.

The leaders at super-agency, London and Partners, pledged to work closely with our team at EDC to ensure that a potential visit in 2017 is mutually beneficial and showcases both long-term opportunities and measurable results. Additional meetings with Tech London Advocates (a large Connect-like network that supports London's start-up community), OneNucleus (a small BIOCOM-like entity that brings together London's life sciences companies) and MedCity London (a large network of well-funded life sciences incubators that have been spinning out new biotechnology and medical technology companies for almost a decade) confirmed that the interest in San Diego's biotech, high-tech and startup communities has never been higher.

We had a final meeting with a fascinating NGO called Nesta, where we explored the opportunity for San Diego to be included in some of their research and benchmarking efforts with other major global cities. It turns out they have been looking to engage more with cities in North America...sometimes timing is everything.

Looking back at my week overseas, my key takeaway is just how much our geographic proximity to Mexico and our strong regional collaboration with our partners in Tijuana/Baja have become key to our global identity. And at a time when the world is hearing international news reports of divisive and hateful rhetoric coming from one of our nation's Presidential candidates, the realities of Tijuana and San Diego working together and supporting each other have never meant more to our region and our nation's reputation abroad. We were told as much at the end of just about every meeting we had.

So I truly hope we will be returning to London in 2017 to see our two mayors open up a new connectedness between our highly innovative cities. I hope that business and university leaders from throughout our region will be there with us to generate new investment, trade and strategic partnerships. And I also hope that our partners and friends from Mexico will be right there by our sides—as always—continuing to show the world what binational leadership and collaboration looks like. I believe this can be one of the most important overseas missions our region will ever embark on. And I am certain that the results will pay off in more ways than we can possibly measure.

So as our #GlobalSD campaign marches on, we want to once again thank all of our partners and investors who are continuing to make it all possible. And if you see Mayor Faulconer, don't forget to remind him how much you appreciate, support and encourage his leadership in these efforts.