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Big Picture San Diego Blog

February 14, 2017
This weekend, years of hard work came to life for BAE Systems and partners across the state as the Barrio Logan-based shipyard cut the ribbon on its new dry dock, the Pride of California.
 
At 950 feet long and capable of lifting nearly 55,000 tons, the dry dock is the largest in California and the third largest in the nation. Used for ship repair and construction, the dry dock is flooded to allow watercraft to float in and then drained so watercraft can be set on a dry platform for work.
 
EDC board member and BAE Vice President Bob Koerber joined Congressman Scott Peters, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Port Chairman Robert “Dukie” Valderrama and an audience of more than 150 senior military personnel for the event inside the dry dock’s 100-foot walls. The dry dock was shipped across the Pacific Ocean on a 7,000 mile, 60-day journey. It represents approximately $100 million in infrastructure investment from BAE to increase the shipyard's capacity to meet the growing needs of the U.S. Navy.  
 
BAE currently employs 2,000 workers in San Diego, with the dry dock anticipated to add more jobs over the next several years. BAE is a critical pillar of San Diego’s working waterfront, where the shipbuilding and ship repair industry employs approximately 12,000 San Diegans and has an economic impact of $1.75 billion annually throughout the county.
 
EDC was proud to support this monumental engineering project by working directly with BAE to craft a competitive application for the Cal Competes Tax Credit program, which they ultimately won. Awarded in 2015, BAE's $1.55 million tax credit supports the shipyards ability to remain competitive and continue to invest in their yard and workforce. 
 
With the rebalance to the Pacific, the U.S. Navy’s presence in San Diego will continue to grow dramatically over the next several years. The challenges associated with this growth include the ability for local industry to service, build, upgrade and repair the equipment for the influx of U.S. Navy vessels. With President Trump calling for the Navy to increase its current fleet to 350 ships, San Diego will be on the receiving end of increased spending.
 
February 9, 2017

If you build it, they will come…”  This mantra was true of the Field of Dreams, and now of San Diego’s burgeoning tech ecosystem.

Together with 35 of San Diego's best and biggest tech companies, Innovate78 representatives joined the San Diego Venture Group's Tacos + Tech in Silicon Valley last week. The event – appropriately held at the Computer History Museum – played host to more than 700 curious Bay Area engineers and programmers, and served to showcase the high-tech jobs and opportunities available across San Diego.

With a special focus on attracting Bay Area engineers, North County companies like ViaSat, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Verve, as well as other San Diego companies like Illumina, Dexcom, ResMed, Qualcomm, Human Longevity, Cubic, Hired and LoanHero set up shop at the job fair-like event. Company recruiters spoke to San Diego as the alternative to Northern California’s congested traffic, high cost of living, hyper-competitive workforce culture and other issues plaguing the region.

As a proud sponsor, the EDC-led economic development initiative Innovate78 represented North County at a booth, with leaders from the five cities along the 78 Corridor – Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista – at the helm. Conversations with attendees ranged from North County housing costs to the growing tech sector, to the many breweries that make up the ‘Hops Highway’ – one of the primary booths highlighting the region's lifestyle.

While many attendees admitted connection to San Diego through family, school or dream vacations, it seemed as though the region’s tech ecosystem – which employs nearly 69,000 people – has flown under the radar. Tacos + Tech provided a platform for some of San Diego County’s top employers and innovators to attract Bay Area talent through simply sharing San Diego's reality: a broad diversity of career opportunity mixed with a top-tier quality of life (and, of course, tacos and beer). For decades, San Diego has built this ecosystem, and now…the talent will most certainly come.

Tacos + Tech comes on the heels of SDVG's Beachhead launch, a coworking space for San Diego entrepreneurs working out of Silicon Valley. 

January 30, 2017

By Nikia Clarke, executive director of WTC San Diego and Peter Cowhey, interim executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at UC San Diego
 
During his first week in office President Trump made many bold moves, including an executive order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a call to renegotiate NAFTA, and a threat to impose a 20 percent border tax on Mexican imports to the United States following a very public spat with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. 
 
Trade matters for economies, big and small. For a border city on the edge of the Pacific, decisions on trade policy in Washington have outsized impacts on jobs, growth and opportunities for San Diegans. 
 
Take TPP — an international trade deal originally negotiated between the U.S. and 11 other countries, covering 40 percent of global GDP
 
Right now, the status quo makes it more expensive for U.S. companies to export to other countries than it is for foreign companies to sell goods and services here. TPP sought to level the playing field, especially for the small and midsize companies that make up more than 95 percent of San Diego’s business ecosystem. 
 
It also was the first trade deal to write the rule book for the economy of the future. It protected the intellectual property of American innovators, which matters when you live in the third most patent-intensive region in the world.
 
Scientific research and development, the heartbeat of our world-renowned life sciences ecosystem and an industry dependent on patents, is five times more concentrated here than in the U.S. as a whole. 
 
TPP eased restrictions on the movement of data and services across borders, which is important when you have a globally competitive cybersecurity cluster and revolutionary big data and genomics industries.
 
In San Diego, innovation is our livelihood, and TPP would have been a game changer for all those San Diego companies that export their knowledge across the globe. Killing TPP effectively cedes leadership on trade rules and norms to China, an outcome that is unlikely to be advantageous for U.S. companies and consumers.
 
And don’t forget that 97 percent of our goods exports — primarily high-value manufactured goods worth over $22 billion — are already sold in TPP markets, employing over 120,000 San Diegans. Most of those goods are exported to Mexico, sometimes crossing the border several times before they are fully assembled. This means that 40 percent of the content of imports from Mexico — the ones subject to a potential 20 percent tax — is American-made.
 
As we pivot from what could have been with TPP and look to NAFTA renegotiation, to building a wall, to a looming trade conflict with China, we should remember that trade has always been an American reality. 
 
Here in San Diego, we marvel at the transformation over the past 50 years from a sleepy Navy town to a global city that develops life-changing technologies. We didn’t get here by building walls, and we won’t get ahead that way either. 
 
 
This op-ed originally ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune: "Trump's trade moves impact San Diego economy"

For more more on TPP and San Diego, see WTCSD's economic impact report.

January 24, 2017

A 295,000 square foot addition to your home may not be on most people’s minds, but for a company with Illumina’s ambition, its par for the course. And today was yet another one of those days at one of San Diego’s largest life sciences companies. It also marked the culmination of a dynamic collaborative partnership to get things done.

Cutting the ribbon on the new addition to its corporate headquarters, Illumina President and CEO Francis deSouza, Executive Chairman Jay Flatley and other Illumina executives shared the stage with San Diego Mayor Faulconer to announce the opening of what is now among San Diego’s top five largest manufacturing centers. And yes, manufacturing in San Diego does include this genomics giant.  

The state of the art facility will house 850 new R&D, oncology, reproductive and genetic health and manufacturing jobs. It will continue to fuel Illumina’s majority share of the world’s genetic sequencing market, producing both the sequencing machines and analytics its customers need to support innovative global healthcare applications.

EDC is proud to have been able to contribute toward making the new building a reality. Countless phone calls, meetings and exchanges alongside our partners at Alexandria Real Estate, Biocom, Cushman & Wakefield and the city of San Diego brokered the arrangement. After four years of collaborative work, led by California Assemblymember Todd Gloria and San Diego Mayor Faulconer, the art of the possible (that new home addition) is today a shiny, ambitious new reality for San Diego.

Next up for the company and San Diego – Another 316,000 square foot addition due to open this July. 

 

January 20, 2017

Understanding our economy begins with strong data – it’s a phrase people hear us say a lot at San Diego Regional EDC, and for good reason. 
 
Unemployment data, while important, only gives us a piece of the puzzle and many people are still curious as to how it all relates to them...as a business…as a job seeker…and as a San Diego resident.
 
As we kick off 2017, we want to provide comprehensive research that tells a story about our economy. San Diego's Economic Pulse, our new research product launching today, is our way of doing that. In addition to  tracking unemployment, we will also be keeping tabs on new business establishments, job postings and looking at who’s hiring in San Diego.
 
This research wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of EDC board officer Phil Blair and Manpower San Diego.
 
Throughout the year, you will continue to see changes in the way we present our research and talk about data. We would love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation at @SDregionalEDC or send an email to research@sandiegobusiness.org.
 
January 20, 2017

From 2025 to 2050, the 65-and-older population is projected to almost double to 1.6 billion globally, whereas the total population will grow by just 34 percent over the same period. With this, it has become increasingly important to support our aging population, with health and wellness among top priority.

San Diego medical technology company and 2016 MetroConnect participant AVACEN Medical has developed technology to help ease some of the common ailments afflicting seniors. The AVACEN 100 is an FDA cleared, over-the-counter medical device that provides non-invasive, temporary arthritis and muscle pain relief, and muscle relaxation. Using microcirculation enhancement on the palms, the locally-made device helps warm and thin the blood, thereby dissipating heat throughout deep tissues and relieving joint pain associated by arthritis, muscle spasms, sprains and more.

Taking this San Diego-made technology global, the AVACEN 100 has just received the CE (Conformité Européenne) Mark approval to treat widespread pain associated with fibromyalgia. The CE Mark allows AVACEN to market its AVACEN 100 to the European Union's 28 member countries where many prescription drugs, available in the U.S., have been rejected by regulatory officials for treating fibromyalgia pain.

Founded by Tom Muehlbauer in 2009, AVACEN’s revolutionary technology was originally developed to help alleviate his sister-in-law’s chronic pain. The company currently sells in two countries, with plans to expand into 10 more over the next year (thanks in part to the CE Mark). Sales have climbed to more than $1.5 million, with more than 20 percent of the sales coming from international markets.

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.