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“If you build it, they will come…” This mantra was true of the Field of Dreams, and now of San Diego’s burgeoning tech ecosystem.
Together with 35 of San Diego's best and biggest tech companies, Innovate78 representatives joined the San Diego Venture Group's Tacos + Tech in Silicon Valley last week. The event – appropriately held at the Computer History Museum – played host to more than 700 curious Bay Area engineers and programmers, and served to showcase the high-tech jobs and opportunities available across San Diego.
With a special focus on attracting Bay Area engineers, North County companies like ViaSat, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Verve, as well as other San Diego companies like Illumina, Dexcom, ResMed, Qualcomm, Human Longevity, Cubic, Hired and LoanHero set up shop at the job fair-like event. Company recruiters spoke to San Diego as the alternative to Northern California’s congested traffic, high cost of living, hyper-competitive workforce culture and other issues plaguing the region.
As a proud sponsor, the EDC-led economic development initiative Innovate78 represented North County at a booth, with leaders from the five cities along the 78 Corridor – Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista – at the helm. Conversations with attendees ranged from North County housing costs to the growing tech sector, to the many breweries that make up the ‘Hops Highway’ – one of the primary booths highlighting the region's lifestyle.
While many attendees admitted connection to San Diego through family, school or dream vacations, it seemed as though the region’s tech ecosystem – which employs nearly 69,000 people – has flown under the radar. Tacos + Tech provided a platform for some of San Diego County’s top employers and innovators to attract Bay Area talent through simply sharing San Diego's reality: a broad diversity of career opportunity mixed with a top-tier quality of life (and, of course, tacos and beer). For decades, San Diego has built this ecosystem, and now…the talent will most certainly come.
Tacos + Tech comes on the heels of SDVG's Beachhead launch, a coworking space for San Diego entrepreneurs working out of Silicon Valley.
With the kickoff to the fall semester, EDC is hosting symposiums on university and community college campuses around the region to better connect talent with opportunities within our leading industries.
On September 15, EDC partnered with CSU San Marcos to host the first event of the fall. Link2Tech @ CSUSM hosted 100 students interested in careers in technology. The event included two different high school classes from the 78 Corridor that are on computer science pathways. The program brought together executives from Thermo Fisher Scientific, Welk Resorts, ViaSat and Northrop Grumman, and gave students an opportunity to hear discussion about the diversity of the tech ecosystem in San Diego, hear where the industry is going and interact with speakers to better understand how they can work to have an internship or job with them.
On September 27, EDC hosted the second event of the semester: Link2Tech @ Cuyamaca College. The event featured a panel of representatives from VaultRMS, Dev Bootcamp and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Attended by 100 high school and college students, the conversation focused primarily on personal career selection, entrepreneurship and refining soft skills as an essential part of professional development.
Proceeding both events, students submitted resumes and engaged in one-on-one dialogue with the speakers. Exposing students to career opportunities help retain the region’s top-tier talent.
In an effort to attract talent from outside of the region to North County San Diego, Innovate78 led an ad campaign targeting the L.A. area and focusing on the region’s diverse career and lifestyle opportunities. Utilizing various social media channels, as well as university communications at UCLA and UCI, the ad campaign garnered more than 740,000 impressions and drove more than 3,500 clicks to the Innovate78 website, where recent graduates can find jobs, housing and additional resources available in North County.
This is a new effort focused on exposing talent from outside of San Diego to the unique opportunities in North County – which includes more than surfing and craft beer (although we love those, too).
Could the 78 Corridor be the next hub for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies? At a roundtable discussion with industry companies, academic institutions and city economic developers this week, EDC posed this question.
With a concentration of more than 650 ICT employers in the five cities along the 78 Corridor - Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, Oceanside, Vista - there is a reason companies are choosing to locate here. Some of those reasons are the quality of talent and engineers, quality of life, and strategic positioning between San Diego and Orange County. If we are able to better capitalize on those reasons and understand the issues and opportunities of doing business along the Corridor (and the broader San Diego region), we can proactively set the framework to accelerate industry growth and clear hurdles.
The discussion identified several key challenges to overcome as well. Key among them: talent accessibility, infrastructure improvements, university/academic relationships and the ability to work together to make the region more attractive for those who might consider working here.
EDC plans to dive deeper into these challenges with our partners, cities and institutions to find creative solutions to turn those challenges into opportunities.