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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Mega-Region

September 29, 2017

By now, just about everyone has heard the news about Amazon and its pursuit to develop a second headquarters operation (HQ2), somewhere in North America. The announcement came out through Tech Crunch and The Wall Street Journal last month and spread like wild fire through economic development communities and elected offices across the nation. Suffice it to say that Amazon has created one of the most competitive business attraction processes in history. Cities, counties, even states, are bending over backwards to make their areas fit the profile that Amazon is seeking: a metro or suburban region with more than 1 million people, the ability to attract and retain tech talent and other amenities like direct flights to key markets.

With the input of EDOs and partners across the county and state, San Diego Regional EDC is coordinating a regional response to Amazon’s HQ2 proposal.

On paper, the region checks all the boxes that Amazon lists in its RFP. In addition, the region has a handful of quality sites that meet the requirements of their build out: ability to deliver 500,000 ft2 by 2019 and up to 8 million ft2 in subsequent phases. San Diego also has a top-tier tech workforce (Amazon has stated they could hire up to 50,000 people) and quality of life that is unparalleled throughout most of the world. But when you look beneath the surface, San Diego also needs to realize that Amazon is commanding what will inevitably be record-setting incentive packages, an area where the State of California has scarcely been competitive, and for good reason. Incentives rarely yield impacts that exceed the costs. Further, when trying to find the location for a truly Life. Changing. company, incentives usually are nothing more than marginalia. Talent, quality of life and the prospect of being able to succeed are ultimately the more important factors. Nonetheless, the process that Amazon has put forth will command hundreds of millions, if not billions in incentives – amounts that can change minds.

Second, San Diego can’t change its geography. There has been debate throughout this process whether being in the same time zone as Seattle (Amazon's current HQ) would be a blessing or a curse. While there are “experts” on both sides of the argument, we ultimately don’t know what Amazon is looking for: West Coast ease of access to Seattle, East Coast access to financial and political centers and new talent pools, or somewhere in between. Only time will tell.

In summary, we don’t know where Amazon will ultimately end up. As an EDO, EDC is excited about the opportunity to bring our region together and present our best opportunities. It’s a good test to see just what we can do when the right opportunity comes along. In conjunction with partners from around the county and state, EDC will submit a response to Amazon’s RFP ahead of its October 19 deadline. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

September 21, 2017

EDC officially launched San Diego: Life. Changing., a campaign to raise San Diego’s profile and attract and retain top STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) talent in the region. SDlifechanging.org includes information about living and working in the San Diego region, and will soon include a digital toolkit to assist companies in their recruitment efforts.                          

The campaign was launched at a specially-themed San Diego: Life. Changing Night at the Padres game on September 19, with more than 15,000 in attendance.

San Diego: Life. Changing. communicates San Diego’s evolving value proposition, driven by companies and people looking to change the world and upgrade their quality of life.                                                                                                               

“We’re not Boston, New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. And we don’t want to be,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “This campaign was developed by San Diego…and for San Diego to communicate the unique opportunities and experiences our region offers to companies and employees alike.”

Extensive research proves that talent fuels economic growth, drives corporate decision-making and fuels entrepreneurship. If San Diego wants to remain economically competitive, it must continue to attract a talent pool that appeals to global companies.

The launch of the campaign is the culmination of Phase I of a year-long effort to refine a cohesive identity to attract and retain STEAM talent in the region. Hailing from life sciences and tech industries, nearly 100 companies with a San Diego presence have joined the “San Diego Brand Alliance” including Illumina, Human Longevity, Inc., SONY, ViaSat, Intuit – as well as many startups – and have provided feedback on potential recruiting tools and other San Diego assets.

“San Diego holds such tremendous opportunities for candidates, yet when recruiting top talent from outside of the region we still encounter the false perception that career options here are somewhat limited,” said Melinda Del Toro, senior vice president of People & Culture, ViaSat and vice-chair, San Diego Brand Alliance. “The San Diego: Life. Changing. campaign reinforces the message we’ve been telling candidates for years: San Diego is a dynamic, rich environment with incredible opportunities to have both the career and life you want, that you just don't find in other regions.”

Over the next two years, San Diego: Life. Changing. will continue to build out SDlifechanging.org to include full company profiles, a video library and additional recruiting tools for companies. In 2018, EDC will look to partner with local organizations to deploy the campaign in specific markets across the country.

Learn more at SDlifechanging.org and follow along at #SDlifechanging. San Diego-based companies can request access to the recruiting toolkit online here.

 

Please see press kit and FAQs for additional information about the campaign. 

July 14, 2017

In early 2017, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program selected San Diego, along with Indianapolis and Nashville, to participate in a six-month intensive learning lab focused on inclusive economic development. During the lab, EDC worked alongside the City of San Diego, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, and UC San Diego extension, to develop a deeper understanding of specific barriers to economic inclusion impacting a variety of populations across the region. The outcome of the learning lab is a data-driven narrative that will inform EDC’s strategy as we work towards an economic development agenda that benefits more people, companies and communities.

San Diego is flourishing economically, with an innovation economy and a culture of collaboration that is driving growth and transformation. According to a Brookings analysis of 50 US metros, San Diego ranks 6th in upward mobility, meaning there is a greater likelihood that an individual born into San Diego’s lowest income quartile will end up in the highest income quartile. This fact, backed by the accomplishments of a range of programmatic models and initiatives by partner organizations – Accion, Connect, CDC, Junior Achievement, to name only a few – proves the success this region has demonstrated in terms of connecting communities to the drivers of our economy.

With an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, the region is approaching full employment, meaning companies have incentives to offer pay raises and compete for talent. However, a 2016 study by San Diego-based Center for Policy Initiatives found there are one million individuals in San Diego that are living below self-sufficiency standards. This means that one third of our population cannot afford a no-frills cost of living without public or private assistance.

A nationwide battle for talent, a soaring cost of living at home, and a growing number of San Diegans unable to make ends meet are combining to form an unequivocal threat to our regional competitiveness. We cannot afford to ignore the large parts of our region that are disconnected from the engine of growth.

EDC, with a mandate to mobilize the business community around a broad economic development strategy, has committed to mainstreaming access and opportunity for all San Diegans into that overarching strategy. Over the duration of the 6 month learning lab, EDC interviewed over 25 companies, agencies, and organizations who are engaged in innovative and impactful best practices that guide families, individuals and companies on a path towards greater economic prosperity. We hosted Brookings research teams, and worked with public, private and nonprofit partners to convene dozens of roundtables and tours across the region. And we built a data-driven narrative that outlines the costs to our competitiveness of the growing number of San Diegans without access to opportunity, networks, and skills. .

For us the work is just beginning. As the learning lab comes to a close, we begin to look at the next phase: strategy. We will continue to lean on our growing network of partners and stakeholders over the coming months as we work with and through them to craft a plan that works to make our economy more inclusive, more competitive, and more resilient. Stay tuned.

July 11, 2017

Read the full profile here.

June 26, 2017

This op-ed was originally published by San Diego Union-Tribune, and authored by Matt Cole, Magda Marquet and Michelle Sterling.
 
This is a time of profound disruption in the global economic system: The rules of global commerce are shifting rapidly, the pace of innovation and competition is generating winners and losers, and political volatility around the world is creating an uncertain environment for businesses large and small.
 
Now, more than ever, it is time for cities to step up and lead. And to lead, they must be seen.
 
For San Diego companies, global connectivity matters. Whether it’s biotech or manufacturing, most businesses have customers outside of San Diego, which allows them to add jobs here at home. In 2015, San Diego exported more than $17 billion in goods overseas, as well as billions more in services like software, cybersecurity, engineering and research. Small- and medium-sized businesses produce 92 percent of those goods. According to the Brookings Institution, companies that are global pay higher wages, are less likely to go out of business and increase productivity of the domestic market.
 
Our competitive advantage here in San Diego is that we develop and produce life-saving and life-changing technologies better than almost anywhere else in the world.
 
Four years ago, Althea was a midsize life sciences company with great talent and a compelling business proposition. A personal relationship, and chance meeting at a trade show, began a relationship with Japanese multinational Ajinomoto that has drawn millions of dollars of investment into the region, and enabled Althea to become a global player in the development and manufacturing of biologics and innovative pharmaceuticals.
 
For Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), a business unit of Cubic Corp., providing public transportation solutions is one example of where public-private partnerships can be applied. From Chicago to Sydney, Vancouver and London, Cubic-powered technology and services move 38 million people seamlessly on a daily basis. This form of service requires collaborative working relationships between metro governments, transportation authorities and the private sector. And more often than not, these relationships need to be built over time by political and civic leadership to be effective.
 
Most San Diegans know the name Qualcomm but are less familiar with the transformative impact that the company has had in the world through its innovation in wireless technologies that power the global economy. What started in 1985 as a startup co-founded by a UC San Diego professor has grown into a company that has invented the technologies that make smartphones indispensable in our lives. With each technology Qualcomm invents and with each employee it hires, people from Brazil to China are learning how San Diego is changing the world.
 
The 600 largest cities in the world account for 60 percent of the global economy, and that economy is increasingly crowded, confusing and contested. Metros need strong leadership, unified voices and targeted strategies to compete. This is why mayors around the world are uniting to take on big issues like climate change, trade and poverty. It is why the mayors of every major U.S. city are on the road like never before, opening doors for the expansion of their regional economies. It is why we, as the Global Competitiveness Council — the voice of the global business community here in the San Diego region — called on Mayor Kevin Faulconer to be on the road to help out.
 
The mayor responded to this call by the business community, and is traveling to Mexico City, Vancouver and London in 2017 to create civic and academic partnerships, to facilitate deals that create jobs for San Diegans, and, most importantly, to create a framework for engagement with our most important markets. Our hope is that companies of all sizes seize the opportunities the mayor is creating.
 
We know what an innovative, collaborative and life-changing place San Diego is; but now more than ever, we need our leadership telling that story here at home and around the world. Our economy depends on it.
 
Cole is president of Cubic Transportation Systems. Marquet is co-founder of Ajinomoto Althea and AltheaDX. Sterling is executive vice president of human resources at Qualcomm.
 
Mayors of every major U.S. city are on the road like never before, opening doors for the expansion of their regional economies.
June 19, 2017

Today, EDC released the first-ever economic impact report on San Diego’s genomics industry. “Cracking the Code: the Economic Impact of San Diego’s Genomics Industry” explores the economic factors that have led to the proliferation of San Diego’s genomics industry, analyzes the region’s genomics standing relative to other U.S. regions, and quantifies San Diego’s genomics-related firms, talent pool, venture capital and more.

As a way to understand San Diego’s proliferation in the genomics industry, the study also includes a web timeline that charts significant milestones at GenomicsSD.org.

As the #1 most patent intensive genomics market in the U.S., San Diego is leading the charge in a new era of healthcare. Personalized medicine and technology are taking precedence, with local genomics companies, research institutions and universities at the forefront.

KEY FINDINGS

Leadership: San Diego is poised to continue its leadership in the field of precision medicine. With more than 115 genomics-related firms, San Diego has companies that handle every aspect of the genomics value-chain – from sampling and sequencing (e.g. Illumina, Thermo Fisher Scientific) to analysis and interpretation (e.g. AltheaDX, Human Longevity, Inc.) to clinical applications (e.g. Celgene, Arcturus Therapeutics), creating a complete ecosystem. Additionally, San Diego conducts the fundamental scientific research, due in part to the concentration of research institutes, that form the basis for many global genomics therapies and interventions.

Capital: While San Diego is home to just one percent of the U.S. population, it received 22 percent – $292 million – of the venture capital funding in genomics in 2016. Continually, San Diego’s numerous nonprofit research institutes command a large share of federal funding (e.g. NIH). In fact, San Diego received $3.2 million federal contract dollars in 2016 – more than any other U.S. region.

Talent: San Diego produces more genomics-ready graduates, relative to the size of its workforce, than any other U.S. region. With nearly 2,000 average genomics-related degrees (biochemistry, cognitive science and bioinformatics) conferred per year, San Diego’s genomics companies benefit from the preparatory work of the region’s top academic institutions. In that vein, it is projected that the local talent pool for key genomics occupations will grow by an additional 10 percent by 2021.

ADDITIONAL KEY FACTS

  • San Diego’s genomics industry has a $5.6 billion annual economic impact, impacting 35,000 jobs in 2016.
  • Among top life sciences U.S. metros, San Diego’s genomics industry ranks  #2 overall, #3 in innovation, #2 in talent, and #4 in growth.*
  • From 2014 to 2016, San Diego generated 371 genomics-related patents. Collectively, 28 local firms generated 120 genomics-related patents in 2016.
  • San Diego is 3.1x more concentrated than the U.S. in key genomics occupations.
  • From 2011 to 2016, San Diego’s genomics talent pool grew by 11 percent, far outpacing the national growth rate of 5.1 percent.

*The genomics scorecard was calculated using a weighted ranking system divided into three categories approximating the genomics ecosystem: innovation, talent, and growth.

EDC’s study was underwritten by Illumina, and sponsored by Alexandria Real Estate, Barney & Barney, Biocom, Eastridge Workforce Solutions, Human Longevity, Inc., Latham & Watkins, Thermo Fisher Scientific and UC San Diego. Additional research support was provided by CBRE.

For a complete copy of the executive summary, click here. For a copy of the full study, click here. To view the web timeline, visit GenomicsSD.org.

 
May 31, 2017

According to EDC’s newly released Quarterly Economic Snapshot, the region added 29,600 jobs year-over-year, a 2.1 percent increase in total employment since Q1 2016. However, the San Diego region saw a quarterly decline of 10,900 jobs, primarily due to seasonal workers transitioning out of retail following the holiday season.

Meanwhile, San Diego’s unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points during Q1 2017, but is 0.7 percentage points lower than the same period a year ago.

Key findings from the snapshot:

  • San Diego closed Q1 2017 with an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, the 14th lowest among top U.S. metros and below the nation’s and state’s rates of 4.6 and 5.1, respectively.
  • The construction sector saw the largest quarterly and year-over-year growth in employment, adding 2,800 and 5,700 jobs, respectively – indicative of the overall health of the economy.
  • The median home price fell 0.7 percent from the previous quarter, but is still up 5 percent compared to a year ago.
  • VC dollars in the region increased 15.2 percent compared to the previous quarter.

Kirby Brady, San Diego Regional EDC research director, explains, “A small uptick in unemployment and slowing home price appreciation are to be expected in the winter months. However, when you look at the overall trends, San Diego appears to be reaching full employment and real estate remains a seller’s market. If these trends continue, we’ll start to see wages rise.”

The Quarterly Economic Snapshot analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. This releases includes data from January to March (Q1) 2017. 

Read it here.

May 19, 2017

"Job postings aren't staying up long, and unemployment is near record lows. I expect wages to start increasing as we approach full employment." - Phil Blair, President and CEO, Manpower

 
Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases unemployment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers April data, including unemployment data, new business establishments, job postings and who’s hiring in San Diego.
 
Highlights include:
  • The unemployment rate dropped 0.4 percentage points to 3.8 percent in April, the lowest seen since December 2006.
  • Unemployment declined in 18 of 19 jurisdictions. Only Del Mar was unchanged, with an unemployment rate of virtually zero.
  • Construction job growth accelerated in April, up 8.5 percent compared to a year ago.
     
 

 

April 26, 2017

 
The world is changing – for better and for worse. In San Diego, we know we can change it for the better and enjoy life in the process.
 
It's time we took our story into our hands. We're not Silicon Valley. We're not Los Angeles. And we're not Denver, Austin or New York. We're San Diego...and there's never been a better time to own our story.
 
Introducing San Diego: Life. Changing.: a campaign about real people who have chosen San Diego and have changed the world and upgraded their lives along the way. This is #SDLifeChanging. See the details at SanDiegoLifeChanging.org.
 

San Diego: Life. Changing. from San Diego on Vimeo.

April 21, 2017

“Unemployment rates are stabilizing across the region, as jobs are being filled more quickly and new businesses are coming online at the fastest rate we’ve seen in a year. Some of our biggest and best paying employers are those who are looking to hire right now.” - Phil Blair, President and CEO, Manpower
 
Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases unemployment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego’s Economic Pulse covers March data, including unemployment data, new business establishments, job postings and who’s hiring in San Diego.
 
Highlights include:
  • With a total of 4,601 new establishments, March saw the largest number of new establishments in the past 12 months.
  • San Diego’s unemployment rate of 4.2 continues to be lower than both the California rate of 5.1 percent and the national rate of 4.6 percent.
  • Compared to a year ago, total nonfarm employment is up 29,600, or 2.1 percent, with 22,900 of those jobs coming from the private sector.