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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

May 17, 2016

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, San Diego universities conferred more than 40,000 bachelor’s degrees in 2014. While recent data suggests there has been an increase in young graduates staying in San Diego, there is still a perception that entry-level job opportunities and startup culture are less common here than in other tech hubs, despite predictions of software and related tech jobs growing by more than 18 percent in the coming year – with many companies looking to hire recent grads.

Working to develop and retain talent in San Diego, EDC partnered with community organizations including Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP) and Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE), as well as local universities including UC San Diego, San Diego State University and CSU San Marcos to host four Link2 events this quarter – connecting hundreds of students and veterans to industries and businesses growing in the region.

Kicking things off in Q2 with Link2Cyber, EDC introduced nearly 100 students to the region's growing cybersecurity sector. Hosted at CSU San Marcos, students from across the 78 Corridor heard from a panel of industry leaders, including ViaSat, CCOE, San Diego Airport Authority and others to learn about career opportunities in San Diego’s growing cybersecurity industry.

In addition to bringing industry onto campus, EDC and DSDP hosted Link2Downtown which brought more than 100 university students to tour downtown startups and incubators, showcasing the robust tech and startup scene in San Diego’s core. Computer Science students from San Diego State University and UC San Diego toured EvoNexus, The Control Group, Mindtouch and Red Door Interactive.

With emphasis on transitioning service members and veterans, EDC and CCOE hosted Link2Cyber at Navy Region Southwest during Hiring Our Heroes on April 20. The event featured two panel discussions, each with emphasis on technology innovation and integration, entrepreneurship and employment needs, to help acclimate transitioning services members into private sector employment – utilizing their unique skillsets in cybersecurity and more.

Taking it back to campus in May, Link2Design introduced students to design thinking in San Diego – demonstrating the power and value of design as a driver for San Diego’s innovation economy, civic infrastructure and quality of life. Hosted at The Basement on campus at UC San Diego, the event gave more than 35 students access to industry leaders – from ThermoFisher Scientific, Makers Quarter, Grizzly and Feetz – who discussed career opportunities, market trends and more about design in San Diego.

Launched in 2014, the Link2 series is part of EDC’s efforts to retain and grow our region’s talent. By exposing students and veterans to opportunities that exist in growing industries across the region, we are ensuring the growth of San Diego’s diverse talent pool.

May 5, 2016

With over 3.2 million people and nearly 1.5 million jobs in the San Diego region today, San Diego’s extensive network of highways, roads, rail lines and public transit serves as the backbone of our economy. Essential for the movement of people and goods in and around the region, transportation infrastructure strengthens the regional economy and promotes future economic growth. Expansions and enhancements to roads, highways and public transit reduce congestion, decrease travel times and increase business productivity and overall economic competitiveness.

First approved by voters in 1988, TransNet – the region’s half-cent sales tax – has funded a variety of local transportation projects including roads, highway, public transit and active transportation. Since its inception, nearly $3.3 billion in funds collected by TransNet have been leveraged with nearly $10 billion more from federal, state and local funding sources to deliver more than 650 projects throughout the region. EDC released an economic impact analysis of TransNet, which reveals how investments in transportation over the last 25 years have impacted San Diego’s economy.

Key findings:

  • TransNet has a $20 billion economic impact.
  • 650 projects have been completed to date, including 6,500 acres preserved as open space.
  • Every $1 collected in TransNet taxes results in a $1.70 increase in the region’s GDP.
  • TransNet supports 5,300 jobs annually and has contributed $9 billion in total local wages.
  • Regional benefits from infrastructure investment include 12.4 million hours of commute time savings and $500 million in travel time savings annually.  

Read the analysis here.

May 3, 2016

This week we sat down with Eric Northbrook, managing director at Voit Commerical Real Estate Services to discuss what it means to do business in San Diego. Voit is a privately held, broker-owned Southern California-based commercial real estate firm that has been providing strategic property solutions for clients since 1971. Over the course of 40 years, the firm has completed more than $44.8 billion in brokerage revenues encompassing more than 43,000 deals.

1.Please tell us what your company/organization does.

Voit is all about helping our clients get what they want when it comes to commercial real estate. We are a broker-owned firm dedicated to delivering superior service through our great people and top-of-the line tools and resources. The commercial property market is changing every day, and our goal is to always be out in front of what’s going on so that we can deliver on what gives our clients the results they’re looking for. We represent real estate investors and occupiers of all types of commercial real estate, and each one of them has their own needs, objectives and vision of a quality outcome. Our focus is on helping them get all three. We also strive to create the kind of work environment that will allow us to attract and retain the people who share our passion for being the standard bearer for our industry.

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

San Diego has an excellent blend of economic and lifestyle components that make it a great place to live, work and play. The economy is supported by a broad base of major employment sectors that help maintain overall stability, and the area’s highly regarded universities ensure a steady flow of bright, qualified workers to provide for further growth. Defense, Aerospace, Biotechnology, Action Sports and most recently, the craft-brewing industry are all thriving in San Diego. From a lifestyle perspective, the area is tough to beat. Great weather, beautiful beaches, recreational activities, top-notch food and entertainment, along with a wide variety of housing choices are all just what today’s growing millennial workforce is looking for in a place to call home. It’s no surprise that San Diego continues to outperform all but a few of California’s 58 counties and consistently ranks high in national quality-of-life surveys.

3.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.

We think that Barney & Barney, a San Diego-based insurance agency, is a firm that stands out as a firm at the top its game. Founded in San Diego back in 1909, the company has a rich history of superior service to its clients and philanthropic efforts in the community. The leadership team is also focused on developing talent and promoting from within. Recently, nine employees were promoted to Principal, which demonstrates the company’s commitment to see its own people thrive.

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

I couldn’t be more excited for the future of Voit in San Diego. We just finished our best year ever and our own Randy LaChance was Voit’s top producer companywide for 2015. Our new broker-owned business model makes Voit an even better place for real estate professionals to work. We are also committed to hiring recent college graduates who will help us expand our presence throughout the region. Plans are also underway to open an office in North County so we can provide better service to our customers and attract new brokers to join our team.

San Diego’s future is as bright as I see our own. Activity from the border to Oceanside is up, and our healthy job market will keep the economy in growth mode for the foreseeable future. If there’s a problem in San Diego, it’s the shortage of land to build more commercial properties. Space will get harder to find and be more expensive to lease or buy looking ahead. So, growing businesses will have to find new ways to use space more efficiently. If that can be done anywhere, it will be done in San Diego, as this is a place the best and brightest like to call home.

April 28, 2016

It’s clear that despite a healthy economy, not every part of San Diego is enjoying economic prosperity. This week, GlobeSt.com sat down with Jim Zortman, sector VP, strategic operations of Northrop Grumman and newly appointed chairman of EDC, for a chat about what he hopes to do about this issue and others. 

What are your goals in your new role as chairman of the San Diego Regional EDC?

Zortman: Over the past four years, EDC has introduced a number of important initiatives to expand our regional economy with and through a broad base of partners. For example, in partnership with the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase, the “Go Global Initiative” aims to attract foreign direct investment, grow regional exports and strengthen economic ties in strategic international markets, as well as position San Diego’s unique global identity.

As chairman, I am committed to championing these initiatives, but it’s clear that despite a healthy economy, not every part of San Diego is enjoying economic prosperity. I hope to broaden our agenda to focus on economic development issues in communities that have not yet benefited from the region’s development. It is my vision that the broad-based coalition of partners that catalyzed the region’s life-sciences, technology, R&D, defense and aerospace sectors can also come together to develop job opportunities and prosperity for more San Diegans.

What do you feel are the biggest economic development challenges in the San Diego market?

Zortman: We have all heard the comment that businesses should operate “anywhere but California.”  We know it is not cheap to do business here. But it is our job as economic developers to understand and leverage our assets and competitive advantages—just as your readers often have to do as real estate professionals. California is number one in economic categories like foreign investment, venture capital and job growth; we rank first in sectors like agriculture, defense, biotechnology and life sciences; our public universities are nationally ranked and produce top-tier talent—the list goes on and on. San Diego plays an important role in each of these fields.

San Diego is home to the largest concentration of military anywhere in the world. It is the underpinning of defense sectors where we have unmatched dominance: cybersecurity, defense, communications, unmanned systems and maritime. San Diego is the epicenter of the future of biotechnology—specifically genomics. We are home to Craig Venter, who was the first person to sequence the human genome, and to Illumina, the company that can now sequence the genome in just over 24 hours for under $1,000. San Diego has more than 80 research institutions, more than any other region in the country.

Not only are we home to a diversity of thriving industries, but we are also a top-tier talent pool driving our region’s growth. Specifically, San Diego gained 72,000 degree holders in 2014 alone, more than any other major metro area in the country. Also, San Diego has the lowest turnover rate in tech and scientific R&D jobs, which is attracting the attention of technology companies across the country.

Continually, we have what talent wants: the lowest average commute time of any major metro area in the country; an influx of creative-office space as seen with iboss Cybersecurity’s space in UTC; competitive wages—ranking second average annual pay for R&D employees—and more.

And if that’s not enough, let me point out that the economy of Texas could pretty much double overnight and still not match the strength of California’s economy. In the end, dispelling myths about doing business here and telling San Diego’s story is our collective responsibility.

What do you feel are the biggest economic-development opportunities that are perhaps not being taken advantage of in the San Diego market?

Zortman: One of the biggest opportunities we have as a region is to help companies export their products and services. In 2013, San Diego ranked 18th of the 100 largest metro areas in total export value, export-supported jobs, GDP and population size. But the region was only 61st in terms of export intensity—total export value as a share of the region’s GDP. According to the Institute for International Economics, companies that export not only grow faster, but are less likely to go out of business than non-exporting companies.

World Trade Center San Diego – now housed within EDC – has introduced the MetroConnect Program to provide small- and medium-sized enterprises with resources and funding to help open new markets abroad. The Go Global Initiative and programs like MetroConnect help San Diego maximize its global competitiveness.

What else should our readers know about San Diego Regional EDC?

Zortman: The real estate industry is a key partner to EDC. Every day our team works with brokers and developers to help enable and encourage companies to grow here. Using data on the region’s industry clusters, workforce talent and network of partners, EDC is able to assist companies with expansions throughout the mega region. Some of San Diego’s recent wins include the attraction of tech companies such as Bizness Apps and Wrike.

Real estate professionals should also use the research EDC produces to better understand industry sectors poised for growth. For example, EDC recently released a study on San Diego’s software development industry. The study showed the region’s software ecosystem impacts more than 100,000 jobs in the regional economy, with an economic impact totaling $12.2 billion annually; venture-capital investment in software was up by 38 percent in 2015; and the industry has an anticipated employment growth of 18.1 percent in the next year—all signs that the region’s tech ecosystem is gaining national visibility.

 

Click here for the full story.

April 27, 2016

By Nikia Clarke, Director, World Trade Center San Diego

WTC San Diego is on the road again, with a focus on deepening channels of connectivity between global cities around trade, investment, innovation and thought leadership (as well as herring, it turns out).

I spent last week in Stockholm, Sweden, participating in a Brookings/JPMorgan Chase Global Cities Forum. San Diego joined the Global Cities Initiative (GCI) almost four years ago, led by WTC San Diego founding partners—the City of San Diego, San Diego International Airport and the Port of San Diego—and followed by more than 30 other metros. Stockholm is now joining the GCI and drafting its own internationalization strategy. Together with four other GCI representatives, I spoke on panels and participated in working groups convened by Brookings, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and CONNECT Sweden to share San Diego’s experience of building a data-driven trade and investment strategy backed by a regional coalition of partners.

And, as is always the case with these Brookings Metro Exchanges, it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn from our peer cities. Philadelphia’s Economy League, together with their very active WTC, just launched a regional export plan, leveraging service provider networks to reach exporting firms. In London, the Mayor’s office and London & Partners are linking with private sector multinationals to create opportunities for 800 SMEs in new markets. Minneapolis-St. Paul has built strong regional economic development infrastructure that drives significant foreign investment to their bi-city region. World Business Chicago has been leading an effort among dozens of counties to move from competition to collaboration in a metro region that is one of the country’s largest foreign investment destinations.

At the close of the forum, the Chamber—along with the Mayor, Governor, Airport Authority and other public and private sector senior leadership from the region—launched Team Stockholm to drive the effort forward. As the CEO of AstraZeneca—an English-Swedish firm that is the seventh largest pharmaceutical company in the world—spoke to the group about the importance of global connectivity, on the other side of the world, his company inked a deal with San Diego’s Human Longevity Inc. to sequence more than 500,000 genomes and analyze samples from clinical trials. Indeed, competitiveness is all about connectivity.

So how do we continue to grow this kind of connectivity here in San Diego? Turns out Stockholm is the perfect place to reflect on this question, which is why innovation economy experts, like our own Mary Walshok, have been building linkages between our two regions for decades. Stockholm and San Diego have a lot in common: we are both metro regions of 2-3 million with world-class research ecosystems, strong life sciences, telecomm and technology sectors and we happen to be two of the top three most patent intense regions in the world. It is why as you drive down the road you see big names in our region that are also big names in Sweden: Thermo Fisher, Kyocera, Trinity Biotech, Ericsson, JLabs among others.

And in both our cities, so much of the innovation ecosystem is driven by SMEs—which in both San Diego and Stockholm make up around 95 percent of all companies—and the ways in which they are able to engage with large firms and global networks. I visited a number of the institutions that incubate, accelerate and commercialize technology in the region and there is much we can learn from Stockholm.

The Karolinska Innovation Institute spins life sciences and pharmaceutical discoveries out of the university research hospital. Sting—a city-university-private sector collaboration that runs a network of incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces in the region—is launching a new digital health accelerator program that will launch firms into international markets.

EpiCentre is an innovation house founded as a temporary experiment in a downtown high rise awaiting redevelopment last year. Now it has 600 members—large tech corporates, entrepreneurs and everything in between—who run incubators, accelerators, hackathons and labs. As companies grow and scale they move through the flexible, diverse office spaces throughout the building. It will anchor plans for an expansive downtown redevelopment with hotels, restaurants and office space all linked by aerial walkways. Too cool, right?

I had the opportunity to continue these conversations with a brief stopover in London on the way home to visit co-working spaces, tech hubs and San Diego company Cubic’s new transit innovation centre. Cubic already moves 10 million people around London every day as the operator of the Underground’s oyster card payment system. But here they are working with universities, transport providers and entrepreneurs on what’s next for the ever smarter, safer cities of tomorrow? (hint: it might involve talking holograms and buying your ticket with the veins in your hand

One of WTC San Diego’s primary mandates is to grow opportunities both for local firms in overseas markets, and for foreign ones investing in our region. To this end we’ve spoken with more than 400 investors in Japan, taken a group of water tech companies to England and France and are about to select our 2016 cohort of MetroConnect firms. As we reflect on what’s next for our region in terms of boosting our global competitiveness, it is clear that international innovation networks are critical. Certainly some great lessons were taken from this trip: creating great spaces, collaborating with diverse partners and being a little wild and very flexible.

As always, at each stop we were sure to leave behind one of San Diego’s best exports: Stone Brewing Co. craft beer—this time the Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. No wonder they like us.

Cheers to Stockholm and London, and see you soon, San Diego. 

April 22, 2016
Once again 800 of the region’s executives, elected officials and community leaders joined EDC at SeaWorld San Diego for our Annual Dinner.
 
EDC’s new Chairman Jim Zortman of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems shared his vision for the organization; Conrad Prebys was recognized as the Herb Klein Civic Leadership honoree for his many contributions to the region and Illumina’s former CEO Jay Flatley accepted the Duane Roth Renaissance Award on behalf of the company for its life changing genomics technology. 
 
Throughout the evening, guests had the opportunity to interact with SeaWorld animals and enjoy a unique array tastes and treats spread over a large section of the park. 
 
EDC’s Annual Dinner is underwritten by Point Loma Nazarene University, with additional support from sponsors.
 
April 15, 2016

The California Competes Tax Credit is an income tax credit available to businesses that want to locate in or expand in California. Since its launch in 2014 as part of Governor Jerry Brown’s economic development initiative, the California Competes Tax Credit will award close to $380 million in credits to California companies.

On April 14, 103 companies were awarded more than $68 million in tax credits, creating close to 9,370 jobs over the next five years. In total, these companies will invest more than $1.3 billion over the next five years, aiding the state’s long term growth.  

San Diego boded especially well in this round. Eighteen San Diego companies are receiving more than $11.2 million in tax credits, ranking second among all metropolitan regions in the state. San Diego also ranked second in the amount of jobs created among all metros, with more than 1,330 jobs. Some of the companies that will be will awarded the credits include: Hunter Industries and Sentek Global, and many more. These funds will help the 18 San Diego companies invest more than $139.7 million into the community and pay more than $252.8 million in wages over the next five years.

 

April 15, 2016

Joining forces to make a binational push to promote innovation, trade and jobs within the San Diego-Tijuana Mega Region, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazarán welcomed more than 50 high-level leaders from Brazil, Mexico, Canada and South Korea and other countries from across the globe to San Diego for the Fifth Americas Competiveness Exchange (ACE V).

Organized by the World Trade Center San Diego, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Organization of American States, ACE V – a three-day tour of San Diego – made stops at iboss, Qualcomm, UC San Diego and more. As part of the visit, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the participating countries signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to support initiatives that promote trade and investment partnerships, stimulate job creation and eliminate barriers to commerce.

“We’re proud of the role that we’re playing in fostering innovation, collaboration and technology. It’s part of the DNA of what’s happening here in San Diego,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “This is in fact part of what I think makes this region special, when we talk about the relationship that we have for investment, for our business communities, for our start-up communities. You will not find a region that collaborates better than this region.”

April 15, 2016

Over the past year, EDC has partnered with the Brookings Institute’s Bilateral Cities Exchange to refine the economic development approach between Tijuana and San Diego. In parallel, EDC’s recent engagement with the site selection industry through Explore San Diego – a tour hosted for 12 site selector consultants earlier this year – enabled our facilitation of a cross-border business attraction project that will provide jobs and investment on both sides of the border. Per terms of confidentiality, this project is being referred to as Project Scout.

During EDC’s inaugural Explore San Diego tour, we focused not only on success stories in San Diego, but highlighted companies who had set up operations on both sides of the border, including Thermo Fisher and BD. Although we frequently hear about cross-border collaboration in San Diego, we soon realized that it was a story that many outside the region – including these site selectors – hadn’t thought about; companies can easily do business on both sides of the border.

In early March, EDC received a request from an Explore San Diego attendee whose client was looking to scale manufacturing operations outside of its current high-cost pilot facility. Given the consultants’ recent exposure to the bi-national mega region, San Diego-Tijuana made the long list of 20 potential sites. In response, EDC provided data, real estate market figures and other strengths regarding our cross-border economy. Just two weeks later, a call came in that San Diego-Tijuana had made the top three, alongside North Carolina and Texas.

In a tour on behalf of Project Scout, EDC rallied the necessary business and political partners in order to put the region’s best foot forward – making the case for a cross-border operation. With partners including CaliBaja, city of San Diego, city of Tijuana, San Diego Mayor Faulconer, Tijuana EDC and UC San Diego, EDC showcased Tijuana’s dynamic manufacturing facilities. Here, the group shattered stereotypes by exposing not only the quality and efficiency of Tijuana manufacturing, but also the cross-border collaboration that makes our region so unique.

Project Scout ultimately chose to scale 80,000 square feet of manufacturing operations in San Diego-Tijuana – beating out North Carolina, Texas and other competitors. The local operation will provide jobs on both sides of the border beginning in August.

Stay tuned for more as Project Scout develops. 

March 22, 2016

This week, we sat down with Anne Benge, president of Unisource Solutions to discuss how the company is helping revolutionize office space - creating dynamic, collaborative working environments for San Diego's most innovative companies. With offices first in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the company expanded its California footprint with an expansion in San Diego in 2009. Listed among San Diego Metro Magazine's Most Admired Companies, Unisource Solutions has serviced 678 companies in San Diego since its inception.

1) Please tell us what your company/organization does.

Unisource Solutions creates amazing workspaces for clients throughout San Diego, the state of California and across the U.S. Where do you work? Where is your favorite place to think? Where do you go to read financials? Our superior design team works with architecture, real estate, buildings and companies to marry space and culture. Personally, my best thinking is done while I run, I cannot read financials standing (this I have learned since I have a standing desk and when I study our P&L, I move to the kitchen in our office to think). The two biggest issues facing every single CEO that I talk to are how to get the best talent and how to develop or change their company’s culture. Your space, the design of your space and your furniture all make an impact.

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

San Diego is a diverse, fragmented, fantastic market. Educated, entrepreneurial, loyal and international are how we think of this market. I doubt that I could actually be more pro-California. The scale of our city aligns with other powerhouses around the globe and it amazes me during my travels just how exciting that can be – think Helsinki, think Kyoto, think Stockholm, my list goes on and on. The inherent collaborative nature of San Diego makes it the best place in California.

3) 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.

True to San Diego thinking, I think of people and their companies. Renovate America with Dan Cancelleri building their spaces, Helix with David Becker creating a completely great lab space and John Frager taking CBRE to another level in San Diego.

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

Our business is shifting and adapting, along with everyone else. While we are considered a distribution and warehousing company, our growing business is design, project management and facilities management services. We will continue to see healthcare facilities look like five-star hotels, while hotels and offices strive to look like homes and restaurants. Importing global thinking to San Diego will continue to move us forward. Life sciences, defense and technology are thriving and the need for attracting and retaining talent and providing an inspiring place to work will to push us forward.  

Unisource Solutions showroom: