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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

January 19, 2017

At the start of each year, Forbes recognizes young entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders across business, education, media and more. In the 2017 iteration, San Diego had strong representation across sectors, further solidifying our region as a world-class city where young talent thrives. 
 
Introducing San Diego's 20-something superstars listed in Forbes 2017...
  • Chad Amonn, Cofounder, Inova Drone (manufacturing): Chad founded Inova Drone, a TechStars company developing small drones for commercial and governmental applications, including public safety and infrastructure inspection. Inova Drone was one of the first companies in Qualcomm's Robotics Accelerator, and was recently a part of WTC San Diego's 2016 MetroConnect program
  • Vinny Green, Director, Business Development, Snopes (media):  Leading business development for fact-checking site Snopes, Vinny and his team doubled annual site traffic to over 13 million unique visitors in October. A local, Vinny graduated from MiraCosta Community College. 
  • Melissa Gymrek, Assistant Professor, University of California San Diego (science):  With research institutions and universities creating a major economic impact in San Diego, scientists like Melissa play a crucial role in building our San Diego's innovation economy. Recognized for her work in genetics and with a patented algorithm for part of the genetic sequencing process, Melissa is on the forefront of San Diego’s scientific research. 
  • James Heller, Cofounder, Wrapify (marketing):  Growing up as a car enthusiast, James used his passion to launch Wrapify, a San Diego startup that pays drivers to wrap their cars with advertisements. With $3 million in sales and 35,000 drivers, the company's unique platform has caught on in 27 cities. James attended CSU San Marcos.
  • Braydon Moreno & Coby Kabili, Cofounders, Robo 3D (manufacturing):  Founded in an apartment in Pacific Beach in 2012, Robo 3D now pulls in $4.7 million in annual earnings with its high-speed consumer-based 3D printers. Part of WTC San Diego’s 2015 MetroConnect program, Robo 3D received programmatic and financial support to increase its exporting capacity in new international markets. 
  • Josh Watson, Esports Operation Manager, Psyonix (gaming):  With the huge success of the game Rocket League, downtown San Diego-based gaming company Psyonix has been pushing its way into eSports  in recent years with SDSU  grad Josh Watson leading the charge. His work includes production of the Rocket League Championship Series Live International Finals, which was viewed by over 1 million people worldwide.

 

January 10, 2017

This week we sat down with Kevin Solorio, campus director of Dev Bootcamp (DBC), a local coding and web development program. DBC is helping to create a talent pipeline for San Diego and has graduated more than 2,700 students. The program has been igniting careers in technology since its launch in 2012.

Please tell us what your company/organization does.

Dev Bootcamp’s mission is to transform lives by teaching people of all backgrounds the technical, cognitive and interpersonal skills used in software development. We created the original short-term, immersive software developer bootcamp with an instructional model that creates technical aptitude along with the interpersonal skills.

Since we started in 2012, we’ve been fine tuning our program and have developed a skills map: our set of competencies as informed by employers to prepare our grads for today’s job market. Graduates of Dev Bootcamp’s program are exposed to Ruby, Rails, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and database systems such PostgreSQL. In addition to teaching these languages and frameworks, we coach students on how to approach challenges like developers do – thinking through a project and iterating feedback to arrive at the most elegant solution.

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

Dev Bootcamp saw the value of the San Diego tech scene and made the decision to open our fourth campus here in East Village (we currently have 6 locations nationwide). San Diego has often been overlooked in terms of tech talent and job opportunities, however, as we were evaluating different cities across the country, San Diego began to stand out. It consistently ranks high on lists for launching companies and named among the most innovative cities in the U.S.

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.

Our experience working with Intuit has been exceptional. The company has exhibited strong leadership and corporate responsibility to help reinforce diverse communities in tech. Intuit’s dedication to continued learning and openness to non-traditional pathways all stems from its leadership team with Vice President Alex Balazs and Technology Evangelist Aliza Carpio at the helm.

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

I see San Diego’s tech community growing in innovation, specifically around data analytics and machine learning. With so many local companies focused on biotech, the software needed to support their growth will center on big data toolsets – good news for us.  This will only continue to foster the idea that San Diego is one of America’s smartest cities.

For Dev Bootcamp, these changes mean shifts in our curriculum and additional offerings to help meet the talent needs of the area. Specifically, I can see shifting from teaching Ruby to Python in the somewhat near future and extending the program to include more analysis work.

How can you get involved? Dev Bootcamp SD is launching a "Stories of Innovation" speaker series. The school is kicking off its quarterly series with Gregg Pollack, founder of Code School, Envy and Starter Studio. Join them Feb 22 for an awesome talk hosted at MindTouch. Register here.

January 6, 2017

Now that the holidays are behind us, let’s take a look at some of the data. Early indicators point to another strong holiday shopping season in 2016, beating already lofty forecasts for retail sales1. San Diego’s employment grew by 12,100 in November, as retailers staffed up to meet the surge of shoppers2. But a lot of that hiring is seasonal, and these seasonal boosts are trending down. In fact, growth in retail trade employment has slowed dramatically over the past two years to a mere 0.1 percent.

 

Local employment in retail trade remains 2.8 percent below the pre-recession peak; 11 percent of regional unemployment comes from the industry3. This is because shoppers are increasingly turning to online retailers rather than brick and mortar stores – a trend that has continued to grow since the advent of e-commerce giants like Amazon.com (see chart below).

Traditional retailers are struggling to compete. Last week both Macy’s and Sears announced hundreds of store closures, which will bring thousands of layoffs across the U.S. In San Diego, Macy’s apparel store in Mission Valley will be shutting its doors, leaving 140 people without jobs4.

Changes in technology have had a profound impact on the economy and the composition of jobs. And while the tech boom has brought about gains in productivity, e-commerce and automation are displacing retail workers. These are jobs that are mostly held by women, and where more than half are held by people under the age of 355.

EDC will keep a close eye as these trends develop. Look out for our next monthly employment report on January 20.
 

Sources:

1.      National Retail Federation: https://nrf.com/news/retail-sales-see-solid-gains-first-half-of-holiday-season

2.      San Diego December 2016 LMI Release: http://www.labormarketinfo.ca.gov/file/lfmonth/sand$pds.pdf

3.      EMSI; CA LMI; BLS; Infogroup

4.      Macy’s Press Release: http://www.wsj.com/articles/PR-CO-20170104-910412

5.      EMSI; CA LMI; BLS; Infogroup

December 31, 2016

Last week, we spotlighted EDC's work in 2016. This week, we're proud to showcase San Diego's 2016 successes - the 'Good News' that drives job growth, innovation and more. From increased international connectivity to an influx of innovative startups and even the MLB All-Star Game, this year was chock-full of positive headlines from Oceanside to Tijuana. As we look ahead to 2017, we're grateful for the commitment of our partners and companies that truly make San Diego an exceptional place to call home. 

  MLB All-Star Game a hit in San Diego
Hosted at Petco Park - named the best ballpark in baseball by USA Today - the MLB All-Star Game was a home run for San Diego this year. As part of bringing the Midsummer Classic to San Diego, Major League Baseball contributed more than $1.5 million to community projects in Tijuana, Escondido and Southeast San Diego. Read more.
 
  San Diego doubles intercontinental routes 
Linking San Diego to some of Europe’s most important economic and cultural hubs, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority - ranked among the best airports in the U.S. - added two new nonstop flights to its international roster: Condor’s service to Frankfurt and Edelweiss’ service to Zurich. San Diego now has nonstop service to six countries. Read more.
 
  San Diego lauded as startup hub 
San Diego is no Silicon Valley, and we think that’s a good thing. This year brought with it a wide array of up-and-coming companies expanding to the region, and the world took notice. With a startup-friendly ecosystem, collaborative public-private culture, stellar quality of life and a top-tier university system, San Diego welcomed startups WrikeBizness Apps and Experian to the neighborhood. Collectively, the companies are projected to add more than 300 jobs to the region.
 
  Qualcomm acquires semiconductor company for record $47B
Qualcomm acquired NXP Semiconductors in a massive deal valued at $47 billion, the largest semiconductor acquisition in history. More than doubling Qualcomm's employment base, the deal will create a combined company with annual revenue north of $30 billion, amplifying Qualcomm's ability to engage with smart technology and vehicles. Read more.
 
  BAE welcomes largest dry dock in CA
Expanding the shipyard’s ability to repair Navy vessels homeported in San Diego, BAE Systems welcomed its new dry dock to Barrio Logan. Once assembled, the dry dock will span 950 feet and be capable of floating a ship that displaces 55,000 tons, making it the largest dry dock in California. Read more.
 
  San Ysidro opens new cross-border entrance
Last year, the Cross Border Xpress. This year, PedWest. Despite political rhetoric around walls and barriers, the mega-region continues to build on its connectivity. As part of the $741 million reconfiguration of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, border crossers walking into San Ysidro from Tijuana welcomed the new PedWest entrance this year. The entrance is a critical piece of infrastructure for the more than 20,000 pedestrians who cross from Tijuana to San Diego each day. Read more.
 
  Thermo Fisher Scientific expands into Tijuana
Life sciences giant Thermo Fisher Scientific opened a Software Center of Excellence just an hour south of its Carlsbad location in Tijuana, instead of sourcing its software talent from Eastern Europe or Asia. The new office plans to grow to 100 employs in the near future. Read more
 
  San Diego tackles detriments of aging
As the global population ages, scientists have focused their attention on mitigating the consequences of old age. If 2016 is any indication, it turns out the source of the Fountain of Youth might be in San Diego. This year, Salk Institute scientists released research that demonstrated biological hallmarks of aging can be reversed through cellular reprogramming; President Obama's BRAIN Initiative awarded $2.27 million to neuroscientists at UC San Diego to support Alzheimer's research, among others; and Gary and Mary West opened the region's first Senior Emergency Care Unit in UC San Diego's Thorton Hospital, as well as the Senior Dental Center in downtown.
 
  BD maintains 3,000 local jobs
Following a merger with CareFusion, BD - the world’s largest medication management company - reminded us that an acquisition of a San Diego company isn't always a bad thing. Keeping more than 3,000 jobs in the region, BD is growing its local footprint. The company has a presence in more than 80 countries, yet currently has more employees in San Diego than any other city in the world. Read more.
 
  Nobel laureate named president of Salk
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies named Elizabeth Blackburn, a Nobel laureate and UC San Francisco professor of biochemistry and biophysics, as its first female president. In her role, Blackburn leads the local institute as it pushes the frontiers of discovery in fields such as cancer, neuroscience, aging and plant biology. Since 1901, just 48 women have been awarded a Nobel Prize. Read more.
 
  Stone Brewing distributes first Berlin-brewed beers
Nearly seven years in the making, North County-based craft brewery made a milestone leap into Europe’s renowned beer culture with the opening of Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Berlin. Now fully operational, the location is distributing its beers to 17 countries throughout Europe. Stone is the first U.S. craft brewery to independently build, own and operate a brewery in Europe. As if that wasn't enough for 2016, Stone launched a brewery-focused investment group True Craft and started planning construction on a new local hotel.

 

December 14, 2016

Often hidden behind San Diego’s pristine beaches and thriving regional economy are the  socioeconomic disparities that exist across the county’s 18 cities.

As an organization that aims to support growth of San Diego’s regional economy, EDC understands the importance of including all communities in our work. There is much debate about what the term ‘inclusive economic growth’ means, and it’s something we are working with partners to better define in 2017. In order to understand – and define it – we must know where we currently stand. 

EDC took a closer look at the 18 cities comprising the county. The large discrepancies in poverty rates, income and education across San Diego cities show that while we are part of the largest economies in the world, we have much to improve upon. 

According to the American Community Survey, San Diego’s poverty rate is 13.8 percent – slightly below the national and state rates of 14.7 and 15.3 percent, respectively. However, eight cities in the region have poverty rates above the national average. The region’s educational attainment of 36 percent is above the national and state rates of 30.1 and 31.7, respectively, but 10 regional cities fall below the national rate. Similarly, even when the region’s median household income of $66.2K is over 20 percent higher than the national median household income of $53.7K, six out of the 18 cities fall below the national median.

Highlights from the analysis:

  • National City, with a poverty rate of 24.5 percent, is almost 10 percentage points higher than the national rate of 14.7 percent.
  • El Cajon, with a median household income of $46K, has 49 percent of its total population living below 200 percent of the poverty threshold.
  • Del Mar, with the lowest regional poverty rate of four percent, has the highest median household income at $103K and the highest educational attainment at 72 percent.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, National City has the lowest median household income at $40K (less than 40 percent of Del Mar’s) and the lowest educational attainment at 12 percent (less than 20 percent of Del Mar’s). 
  • The cities of National City, Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach and Escondido have at least 25 percent of their under 18 population living below the federal poverty threshold.
 
The prosperity of San Diego is dependent on the success and growth of all of the region’s cities. EDC is committed to increasing the dialogue around inclusive economic growth and, through data and analysis, shedding light on the region’s disparities. 
 

 

December 13, 2016

Connections: a simple word that takes on different meanings, but for EDC, it describes both what we do and how we do it. In 2016, we were all about connecting... Connecting companies to global markets. Connecting business to opportunities. And connecting with the people who make our economic development work possible.

EDC's impact:

  • 8,260 jobs impacted; 126 year-to-date projects
  • $3.4M in tax credits earned by local companies
  • 14 national media hits secured; 149M people reached
  • 15 SMEs accrued $6M in additional export sales; 42 new regional jobs
  • $1.6M DoD grant awarded to San Diego and local organizations
  • 9K students impacted by career development programming
  • Seven economic research reports released
  • And 160 investors and partners who make it all possible...

See the stories behind the numbers in our interactive review at EDCin2016.com.

"As we head into the new year, we know that we have even more to accomplish in connecting San Diego's economy to the world. As always, EDC is honored to do it with and through all of you." - Mark Cafferty, president & CEO

December 8, 2016

Sometimes we find San Diego stories in unlikely places. 
 
Today, Pristine Environments, a facilities management company, announced that it will be integrating autonomous robotic cleaning technology into its clients’ facilities through a partnership with San Diego-based Brain Corp, a Qualcomm Ventures-backed company. Pristine clients include BAE Systems, Scripps, Takeda, CBRE and many more.

At EDC, we like to see San Diego companies working together. Even better is when we can make it happen. 
 
EDC played matchmaker on this deal. When EDC’s economic development manager Jesse Gipe heard Brain Corp was looking to pilot its robotic cleaning technology, he knew the right partner was in San Diego.  He introduced them to Pristine Environments, an EDC investor in the facilities management space, to see if they would be open to getting this new technology into the hands of their clients. Pristine Environments has clients all over the country, but is headquartered in San Diego. 
 
Brain Corp is a software technology company specializing in the development of autonomous artificial intelligence (A.I.) systems for self-driving vehicles (SDVs). Its newly-launched, self-driving industrial floor-cleaning machine called EMMA will be used in Pristine Environments’ client location throughout the country.  
 
Two local companies collaborating to harness the power of artificial intelligence and robotics to make our lives a bit easier... Now that’s a San Diego’ story.
November 17, 2016

To propel San Diego into the global marketplace, WTC San Diego, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Councilmember Mark Kersey, new Stone Brewing CEO Dominic Engels and nearly 200 business and community leaders awarded the MetroConnect Grand Prize to Rough Draft Brewing. The local, family-owned craft brewery – known for its IPAs and Miramar-based tasting room – is taking its San Diego-made beer into the Canadian, Spanish and Chinese markets. With the network, funding and programmatic support provided by MetroConnect, Rough Draft has increased its sales, hired new talent and connected with the Port of San Diego and Dole to fill empty container ships on backhaul to Latin America.

Managed by WTC San Diego and presented by JPMorgan Chase, the MetroConnect Grand Prize offers $35,000 to one of 15 companies to aid in their foreign market expansion.

So why go global? According to the Brookings Institution, companies that are global pay their employees higher wages, are less likely to go out of business and spur more efficient development of technology and R&D.

The MetroConnect Program was announced to incentivize small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to pursue these foreign markets. Now in its second year, MetroConnect has emerged as the region’s premier export assistance program. Led by WTC San Diego, Fifteen companies are selected on an annual basis and equipped with a suite of programmatic and financial resources to help them in their plans to go global. Out of 75 applicants in 2016, just 15 San Diego companies were awarded the initial $10,000 MetroConnect Prize, funded by JPMorgan Chase.

Over the course of the program, the cohort produced an additional $6 million in export sales and 42 new jobs for the region, collectively. A panel of judges consisting of business and community leaders reviewed the companies’ respective accomplishments and goals as a means of selecting the top five finalists to present at the Grand Prize event: Deering Banjo CompanyMANTA InstrumentsRough Draft Brewing Company, Calbiotech and VaultRMS.

 Winning thoughts:

“We want to thank World Trade Center San Diego, JPMorgan Chase and all those who participated in making this a memorable and meaningful event. To my fellow MetroConnect finalists Calbiotech, Deering Banjos, MANTA Instruments and VaultRMS, it’s been a privilege learning with and from you,” said Jeff Silver, president of Rough Draft Brewing. “We deeply appreciate receiving the Grand Prize in recognition of our efforts and look forward to continued success on the international level.”​

The complete 2016 cohort can be found here.

October 31, 2016

For 36 hours in late September/Early October, RIMAC Arena was transformed from a sports facility, to a coliseum of creative computing. One thousand students from around California came to compete in the largest collegiate hackathon the region has to offer: SD Hacks. Teams worked to create new code, applications and programs that responded to sponsored challenges. In addition to student competition, companies like ViaSat, Qualcomm, SAIC, SPAWAR, Perkins Coie, iboss Cybersecurity, Classy, VaultRMS, Booz Allen Hamilton and the City of San Diego joined in to talk local tech opportunity and mentor student teams. When all is said and done, 1,000 prospective tech employees left the competition with a new perspective on opportunities in tech, here in San Diego.

October 28, 2016

In an age of rapidly evolving technology, it’s becoming increasingly pertinent for companies to defend themselves against cyber attacks. The cybersecurity sector seeks out the brightest minds to stay one step ahead of hackers who threaten security of  some of the biggest U.S. companies like Netflix, Twitter, Spotify and Amazon. Experts predicted one million cyber job openings worldwide in 2016. This burgeoning market for cyber professionals saw 74 percent growth in the last 5 years with expected growth of 13 percent in San Diego alone between 2016 and 2017. Big players in cybersecurity call San Diego home including SPAWAR, ViaSat, ESET, Northrop Grumman, Sentek Global and General Atomics, to name a few.

EDC's Link2 San Diego program seeks to retain the region's new grads by introducing them to industry leaders and lucrative job opportunities within some of the region's fastest growing sectors. By partnering with local universities, students have a chance to interact one-on-one with top executives they may not otherwise meet. Our fall 2016 Link2 series kicked off with Link2Tech at CSU San Marcos and Cuyamaca College this September. Now, in recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness month, we brought Link2Cyber to USD and SDSU.

Link2Cyber at USD was hosted in partnership with the university's new Center for Cyber Security Engineering and Technology (CCSET). The panel was moderated by Winnie Callahan, director of CCSET and featured representatives from the Cyber Center of Excellence, Sharp Healthcare, ESET, City of San Diego and SPAWAR. There were more than 60 college and high school students in attendance.

For Link2Cyber at SDSU, EDC partnered with the university's Department of Computer Science and its Computer Sciences Advisory Board in hosting 60 students and 20 industry representatives for a networking reception and panel discussion. During the panel, representatives from Sony, General Atomics, ViaSat, LP3 Security and Sentek Global spoke to current trends in cybersecurity and provided insight on how students can best prepare for jobs in cyber.

By showcasing the breadth and diversity of San Diego's top industries, EDC is working to retain and attract top tier talent in San Diego.