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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Economic Development 101

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.
September 15, 2016

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

With a background in manufacturing engineering and nine patents to his name, Laszlo Garamszegi of Aurora Spine treats the development of medical devices as both art and as science.

I’ve been fascinated with designing and building devices in this space for a long time”, states Garamszegi, originally from Hungary. “Through a blend of engineering, raw materials and a sense of aesthetic, it’s possible to make something that will truly improve a life. In fact, many lives.

It’s with this sense of focus and aspiration that Garamszegi co-founded Aurora Spine in 2012, after working at a number of other medical device companies throughout the San Diego region. With spinal fusion technologies necessitating highly invasive procedures and long, painful recovery times, the company saw an opportunity for improvement. Aurora’s technologies aimed to simplify the process and allow for effective spinal fusion that streamlined surgical procedures and contoured to a patient’s unique anatomy.

The company has experienced impressive growth with a full product suite of interspinous fusion devices, biologics and surgical tools. With product currently in fifteen countries around the world, the Aurora team is working hard to expand its presence in other global regions, including South Korea and Australia, among others. Devices are manufactured right here in the U.S. with supply chain operations in California and Ohio. With the company’s core ZIP® product line receiving U.S. patent approval in April of this year, Aurora is well positioned to continue to bring its sleek, futuristic looking product line to the international market.

 

Speaking of aesthetics, what of the brand’s signature royal purple color? Any special significance there?

Laszlo laughs at the question. “Trent (CEO and one of Aurora’s co-founders), attended Carlsbad High School and that was the school’s team color. We have international reach, but that strong tie-in to San Diego won’t be going away any time soon.”

 

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

September 8, 2016

One of the most unique industries in San Diego is Sports & Active Lifestyle, a key driver of the regional economy - impacting more than 32,000 jobs - and a staple in our local culture. As part of our series leading up to San Diego MFG Day on October 7, we’re bringing you five items #MadeinSD used by professional athletes around the world.

  1. SKLZ: Endorsed by USA Soccer star Alex Morgan, Evan Longoria of the New York Yankees and hometown favorite Jason Verrett of the Chargers, SKLZ is a staple in the sports training industry. Founded in 2002 with the invention and success of the Hit-a-Way baseball training product, SKLZ products are used to train the world’s top competitive athletes with lines of performance training products and programs.
  2. FOX: If you’ve ever ridden a mountain bike, motorcycle or other offroad vehicle, chances are FOX supplied the shock absorbers. FOX moved their off-road and military components division to El Cajon in 2012 and continues to be an industry leader in shock absorbers and racing suspension products for snowmobiles, mountain bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, off-road cars, trucks and SUVs.
  3. TaylorMade Golf: It’s no surprise the largest golf equipment and apparel company in the world is headquartered right here in Carlsbad, as the region is one of the most active golf hubs in the country. The company sponsors top PGA golfers including Sergio García, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson. For this first time in the TaylorMade history, the company has the #1 and #2 golfers playing TaylorMade equipment.
  4. Rusty Surfboards: In 1969, Rusty Psiendorfer shaped his first surfboard as a high school student in San Diego. Sixteen years later, he found Rusty Surfboards – now a top-tier  surfboard manufacturer based in San Diego. The Rusty “R” logo is internationally recognized in the surf and surf apparel industry.
  5. Sticky Bumps: Going hand-in-hand with Rusty, anyone who owns a surfboard has used Sticky Bumps. As surfing became popular in the early 1940s, surfers began relying on candle wax to keep their feet glued to the board while riding the wave. As the industry-leading surf wax maker, Sticky Bumps makes its products in Vista and is recognized globally as the go-to surf wax. 

 

Celebrate all that's #MadeinSD on October 7. Visit sdmfgday.com to get involved. 

August 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 20, 2016

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

According to a policy brief released by National University System Institute for Policy Research, 114 San Diego-based breweries and brewpubs generated $851 million in sales last year and employed more than 4,500 workers. Ranking second Best Beer Cities in America and taking home big wins at Del Mar’s 10th Annual International Beer Festival, San Diego is clearly making strides in the craft brewing scene. Aptly, our next MetroConnect company profile highlights a successful local brewery that hopes to take their San Diego story (and beer) abroad.

After making the switch from insurance to craft brewing, UC San Diego alum Jeff Silver opened Rough Draft Brewing Company in 2011. The company’s mission is to create innovative, high-quality craft beers worth sharing with those who love beer as much as they do. Rough Draft now has more than a dozen options on constant rotation available in their tasting room, from the Freudian Sip Strong Ale to the Barrel-aged Emboozlement Tripel.

Having recently expanded capacity into the facility next door, Rough Draft is well-prepared to grow its global reach beyond its current exports to Canada and Australia, with a new focus on Mexico, Spain, Japan and Korea. The company plans to leverage the MetroConnect Program to make distributor connections and comply with label regulations, as well as support travel necessary to promote its product internationally.

Silver states, “In manufacturing, there are typically two problems you always face: not making enough and not selling enough. With our capacity expansion, we have ‘making enough’ covered. Now, with the support of the World Trade Center San Diego and MetroConnect, we look forward to   seizing opportunities that come with expanding to new global markets.

Silver and his team remain committed to the growth of the business while still retaining the quality and creativity Rough Draft has become known for. Beer tip: Keep on the lookout for a special raspberry infused ale aged in chardonnay barrels coming out this summer (certain members of the EDC team will definitely be heading over for a tasting).

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

July 18, 2016

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

A pioneer in renewable energy, San Diego is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies in cleantech research and development. The region’s cleantech industry includes the innovation and deployment of technologies in clean transportation, energy storage, energy efficiency, biorenewables and solar and wind power. Solatube Worldwide Sales, a company owned by North County-based Solatube International, Inc. is an excellent example of how a San Diego company combines innovation in both harvesting solar energy and energy efficiency. 

Solatube tubular daylighting devices (TDDs) are affordable, high-performance lighting solutions that bring daylight into interior spaces where traditional skylights and windows simply can’t reach. Sometimes called “light tubes,” TDDs have become the ideal solution for lighting interiors in a cost-effective, energy-efficient and eco-friendly way because they significantly reduce the need for electricity while keeping people connected to the outdoor environment. Solatube products are used in commercial and residential settings in over 120 countries around the world.

Solatube Worldwide Sales acts as the international division that handles all areas outside the U.S. and Canada. Impressively, the team of three employees currently markets and sells Solatube Daylighting Systems and Solar Star Attic Fans into Southeast Asia, Korea and Africa, on top of managing in-country sales reps and distributor networks.

With a new focus on India’s market, Solatube Worldwide Sales plans to use MetroConnect Program support for import tariff reduction projects, exhibitor presence at key trade shows, travel to meetings with Bureau of Energy Efficiency and other tariff reducing entities, as well as market research and workforce growth strategy.  

Todd Maerowitz, Director of International Sales states, “We’re looking forward to working closely with the San Diego World Trade Center on our expansion of Solatube’s products into emerging markets. As we move into places like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, the relationships and financial support we’ll be privy to as part of the program, are sure to prove beneficial to our growth plans."

 

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

June 30, 2016
By Sean Barr, Senior Vice President of Economic Development and only in-office Canadian
 
EDC traveled to Toronto last week with our peers from Atlanta and Minneapolis to meet with metro leaders from across Canada. Facilitated by the Brookings Global Cities Initiative, the conversations proved to be a great opportunity for EDC and WTC San Diego to continue to build bridges with key cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and of course, my native Winnipeg. 
 
There are a number of international markets that many San Diegans might not consider to be at the top of our list. Canada is just one of those markets that surprises many. Canadian cities, in particular, continue to drive a large share of San Diego's trade and investment interests. 
 
Canada purchased more than $2.8 billion worth of goods and services from San Diego in 2013. Inward investment from Canada supports more than 4,300 jobs in San Diego’s local economy. Bottom line, Canada is San Diego's fourth largest trading partner. But still, there is room to grow and expand the depth of the relationship with our Neighbor to the North. For instance, Vancouver shares our pacific, bi-national orientation and smart cities, life sciences and research-driven strengths – a metro market EDC and WTC San Diego intend on growing as we move into 2017. 
 
With Canada’s birthday on July 1, we wish all our Canadian friends, investors and partners a very Happy Canada Day!