Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

April 11, 2018

With and through our investors, EDC maximizes San Diego’s economic competitiveness. Here's our Q1 in review:

Regional Support
In order to grow jobs, EDC dispatched the following company support tactics and events throughout Q1:
 
San Diego: Life. Changing.
EDC's global identity efforts serve to elevate the region as a top destination for talent and investment. In Q1, EDC told authentic stories about the people and companies that call San Diego home. Here's how:
 
Research
Understanding our economy begins with strong data. EDC develops economic reports to help business and civic leaders make informed decisions specific to growth and inclusion across the region. EDC released the following economic reports:
 
WTC San Diego
As part of EDC, World Trade Center San Diego works to cultivate a pipeline of export-ready firms, maximize FDI opportunities, and grow the region's global connectivity. Q1 outcomes included:

See EDC's full Q1 Report here.

April 4, 2018

Each year, EDC honors an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in addressing challenges and making significant contributions to improving our region. We are honored to announce Dr. Mary Walshok as the 2018 Honoree of the Herb Klein Civic Leadership Award

The Herb Klein Civic Leadership Award is presented by:

Dr. Mary Walshok is an author, educator, researcher, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs and Dean of Extension at the University of California San Diego. She is a thought leader on the topic of workforce development and its role in fueling regional economic prosperity. Dr. Walshok is the co-author of “Invention & Reinvention: The Evolution of San Diego’s Innovation Economy,” a book published by Stanford University Press that analyzes San Diego’s ever-changing sociological, political, and economic trends. In addition, she is the author of five other books and more than 100 articles and reports on regional innovation, the role of research institutions in regional economies and workforce development. Her work has led to a number of international engagements and awards in Sweden, the UK, Asia, and Latin America. 

Dr. Walshok oversees a $45 million, 200-employee division  in San Diego that annually serves more than 80,000 enrollees through innovative local and online programs, as well as provides access to a vast array of intellectual resources through the award-winning UCSD-TV and nationwide through UCTV, which reaches more than 6 million households and millions more around the globe via web. The Division also serves more than 3,000 foreign students annually.
 
Dr. Walshok was a co-founder of the internationally recognized CONNECT in 1984 on whose board she still serves and of the San Diego Dialogue in the 1990s, a program focused on opportunities in the San Diego-Tijuana region. She has chaired the Francis Parker School and The San Diego and International Community Foundation Boards and continues to sit on the boards of the La Jolla Playhouse, the Girard Foundation, and the Foundation for U.S./Mexico Science and Technology. 
 
Please join us at SeaWorld on May 31 to celebrate Dr. Mary Walshok and more. Register here.
 
 
March 29, 2018

By Jesse Gipe, senior economic development manager

Across San Diego in the coming months, you may see a drone mapping a fire in real time, delivering a snack from your favorite fast food chain to your doorstep, dropping off a package in your neighbor’s front yard, transforming regional fireworks shows into digital storytelling platforms, or delivering medical samples to a lab reducing patient wait time in local ERs. This is all because of unique regional collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In 2010, EDC, in partnership with SDMAC and other institutions, assessed our regional defense industry to better understand what facets of our defense ecosystem were most resilient to decline even as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan drew down. Drones were identified as one of the major technology areas in which the region had unique expertise and would continue to be acquired by the Department of Defense. Subsequently, EDC has worked on a variety of initiatives to support the development of this evolving industry.

By 2022, the FAA estimates that 451,800 commercial drones – up from just over 100,000 in 2017 – will be flying across our skies performing a wide variety of unique tasks that will change our day to day lives. This growth is being driven by companies already solving problems like critical infrastructure inspection, incident response, and real-time fire management. In addition to very serious use cases, drones are now transforming Olympic Opening Ceremonies, delivering medical supplies to those in need, and acting as valuable sensor nodes for smart city infrastructure. With so many exciting use cases, you may wonder why we don’t see more drones flown by companies as opposed to your 14-year-old neighbor across the street.

The reality is that the U.S. airspace is a complex web of overlapping operations that remains one of the statistically safest things you can do. The FAA, who has the responsibility of adjusting rules to allow drones in the national airspace, is laser-focused on safety. With this, the FAA is also very conscious of the opportunity that drones present for all types of industry and use cases.

To expedite industry demand, the FAA and Department of Transportation launched a new program in November 2017 called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integrated Pilot Program (IPP). This project asked local and state governments to submit a detailed application in partnership with industry outlining how they could partner to demonstrate a variety of technologies critical for flying safely in and around people in more urban and suburban environments.

The City of San Diego offices of homeland security and economic development, supported by EDC, put together a competitive application in response to IPP. The application was supported by academic, government, and nonprofit partners including the Port of San Diego, City of Chula Vista, UC San Diego Health, Governors Military Council, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Palomar Community College, Coleman University, and AUVSI. Just as importantly, the application included corporate support from Qualcomm, AT&T, UBER, Intel, GE, Matternet, AirMap, CAPE, and others.  These companies each have tremendous technical experience in the underlying fields essential to the development of the drone industry and have proposed a series of truly Life. Changing. use cases.

With the application submitted, San Diego alongside the other 149 applicants from across the country are waiting to hear from the FAA. Stay tuned to find who will be among the final 10 selected to move forward with IPP in May 2018.

 

March 27, 2018

"Why Economic Inclusion is Crucial To San Diego," was originally published on GlobeSt.com. Reporter Carrie Rossenfeld interviewed Cynthia Curiel of Northrop Grumman.

It’s vital that San Diego employers act to close the minority-achievement gap, equip small businesses to compete and address the affordability crisis, Northrop Grumman’s Cynthia Curiel tells GlobeSt.com.
 
San Diego Regional EDC recently 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. Simultaneously, the organization held a program called “Future of Growth: the economic case for inclusion,” with keynote remarks by Amy Liu, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
 
“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 of San Diego Regional EDC, in a prepared statement. “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.”
 
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.
 
We spoke with Curiel about why economic inclusion is so vital for our region, what some of the best practices for inclusion are and advice she would give to other companies about inclusivity.
 
GlobeSt.com: Why is economic inclusion imperative for growth internally and across the region?
 
Curiel: Our nation is facing record-low unemployment rates. At face value, this is good news—it means people are working and the economy is producing, but it also means that employers and regions are facing intense competition for skilled talent. While it is important to ramp up talent-attraction efforts, we also must look to incubate a local talent pool. However, when looking at our current economic realities, this is a difficult feat for San Diego to accomplish. For starters, San Diego is an expensive place to live, with the fourth-highest cost of living in the nation.
 
Secondly, small businesses are the backbone of San Diego’s economy. More than 98% of our businesses are small businesses (under 100 workers). On average, small businesses pay 20% lower wages than their peers, making it more difficult to compete for talent. Lastly, although there may be an abundance of jobs in the innovation economy, there is a shortage of skilled workers to occupy them. Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing demographic population in San Diego, yet are statistically the least prepared for high-skilled, high-wage careers, with only 15% holding at least a bachelor’s degree.
 
The compounded impact of a high cost of living, small businesses that cannot afford to pay competitive wages and low educational achievement in our fastest-growing population have created a problem that if ignored, will undermine San Diego’s regional competitiveness. While the answer is not easy or straightforward, it’s vital that San Diego employers act to close the minority achievement gap, equip small businesses to compete and address the affordability crisis.
 
GlobeSt.com: What are some best practices for inclusion in this sense?
 
Curiel: Simply put, the face of our workforce needs to reflect the face of our nation. At Northrop Grumman, we believe that fostering diversity and inclusion in our workforce and workplace is pivotal to promoting innovation and increasing productivity and profitability.
 
We offer a wide range of programs and activities turning our leadership focus on diversity and inclusion into tangible reality for our people from programs that cover education, employee-resource groups and work/life balance assistance, to name just a few.
 
We believe that a diverse workforce is a stronger and higher-performing workforce that results in more-engaged employees, which drives greater creativity and innovation into our business, resulting in more-impactful outcomes for our customers.
 
We want our employees to be comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work every day, which ultimately makes our company stronger, more resilient and more unified when faced with challenges in a rapidly changing and competitive world where we need everybody pulling together.
 
We also hire and mentor our nation’s wounded warriors through Operation Impact. By investing in underrepresented groups, we are not only enabling individuals to reach their full potential, we’re also leveraging untapped resources full of unique experiences, ideas, knowledge and skills to make our company, our culture and our products better.
 
We also know that in order to grow and diversify the talent pipeline, we need to inspire STEM- curious minds at an early age and that’s where our work starts. We partner with school districts and non-profit organizations in a deliberate effort to reach K-12 students from underrepresented communities throughout San Diego County. Some of our strategies include bringing kids on campus for hands-on STEM activities and high school internships, sending our engineers into the community to talk about their careers and providing direct financial support to public schools and non-profit organizations with engineering and technology-based programs.
 
Through the Northrop Grumman Foundation, we are able to expand our reach as we work to connect youth to STEM careers and provide professional development resources for their teachers. Each year we send students and educators from local school districts to Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. Through the Foundation’s Fab School Lab program, Harriet Tubman Charter and the Del Dios Academy of Arts & Science both received $100,000 grants to build state-of-the-art science labs at their schools. For the past few summers, we have hosted local middle-school teachers with a focus on science and technology at our sites in San Diego for a two-week externship where they develop lesson plans based on “real world” applications of STEM principles. In addition, to extend our pipeline of talent through college, graduation and into the workforce, we have robust programs in place where we build direct relationships with some of the most talented engineering students in the country. We are focused on a number of target colleges, including those right here in San Diego, such as San Diego State University and University of California San Diego. This ensures that we are harnessing the strength of our local talent; we are hopeful that by engaging with students at a younger age, they will be inspired and excited by the broad range of opportunities that Northrop Grumman and other local companies offer once they enter the workforce.
 
GlobeSt.com: What advice would you give to other companies that are looking to be more inclusive?
 
Curiel: An investment in your community is an investment in your company. It’s no secret that San Diego is home to some of the brightest minds in the world, especially given the life-changing technology and life-sciences developments taking place. But just think of how many more brilliant minds there would be in our local talent pool if employers embraced diversity and provided the same resources and opportunities to San Diegans in disadvantaged parts of our region. Creating training programs and educational opportunities in these communities is just one way to promote inclusion, develop local talent and create lifetime advocates for your company. So, take a look around. Your next top engineer or scientist could be waiting for you to give them the tools to help them get there.
 
GlobeSt.com: What else should our readers know about the EDC’s recent inclusive- growth event?
 
Curiel: We must recognize that the issue of inclusion is, in fact, an economic imperative and must be systematically addressed by employers and policy makers—not simply left to philanthropy. As San Diego employers, it is our job to embrace the different pathways and experiences of this diverse workforce and use it to our advantage. The Inclusive Growth event included a keynote from the Brookings Institute’s Amy Liu, San Diego Regional EDC’s Nikia Clarke and various members of this initiative’s steering Committee, of which I am very proud to be a part. Over the next year, we will be releasing research and recommendations that together create a platform for inclusive economic growth.
 
It’s not just about creating more jobs; it’s about creating a trajectory of higher growth that comes from increasing the productivity of our local workforce. This won’t happen overnight, but I believe that together we will overcome these challenges head-on and create a better San Diego in which all can thrive. And we will be a better San Diego because of it. Follow along at #inclusiveSD and sandiegobusiness.org/inclusivegrowth.
March 23, 2018

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases industry data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers February 2018 data, including unemployment, new business establishments, and job postings.
 
Highlights include:
  • The region’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, down 0.1 percentage points from last month, and 0.7 percentage points lower than a year ago.
  • Most jurisdictions saw an increase in the unemployment rate from the month prior. However, five did see a small decrease, while one remained unchanged. 
  • The labor force grew again after two months of consecutive declines, adding 11,700 workers during the month. The labor force is now up 28,300 compared to a year ago.
  • Year-over-year, wholesale trade growth outpaced all other key sectors, up 9.4 percent.
 
Read the full Economic Pulse here.
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.