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October 5, 2018

Each year, EDC carefully selects a peer metro for our annual Best Practices Leadership Trip – a chance for EDC and a group of key partners and stakeholders to learn from another region facing challenges similar to our own. The decision to go to Indianapolis this year was not a hard one. We were drawn to Indy not just as a fellow participant in the Brookings Inclusive Economic Development Learning Lab last year, but because of its regional approach to inclusive growth that has catalyzed since. We were further intrigued by Indy’s unique talent attraction and retention programs and its many collaborative efforts across government, business, and philanthropy. Over three days, our group of nearly 30 San Diegans was welcomed by Indy’s civic leaders who highlighted local programs, projects, and initiatives. Ultimately, our goal of the Leadership Trip is to inspire fresh approaches to our own challenges and opportunities at home.

A two-sided economy: The Indy Chamber kicked-off our visit with an overview of the economic disparities facing Indianapolis. Similar to EDC, the Indy Chamber led its region through the Brookings Institution Inclusive Growth Learning Lab designed to help economic development organizations (EDOs) build a data-driven platform that articulates the economic case (and imperative) for inclusion. Since the lab, the Indy Chamber has disseminated the Indy narrative throughout town, with many civic leaders referencing its findings throughout our visit. While Indianapolis bodes well on measures affordability, job growth, and entrepreneurship, it is also the 6th most economically segregated region in the U.S., with limited opportunities for upward mobility for individuals born into poverty. The impacts of automation exacerbate economic segregation and poverty in Indianapolis, which lost more than 20 percent of its manufacturing workforce over the last decade. In facing these realities, civic leaders have enacted new measures to increase job preparedness, homeownership, and overall economic security for Indianapolis residents.

The Cook Medical “unicorn”: In a particularly moving presentation, Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Medical, shared an incredible benefit that his company offers employees who wish to advance their educational goals. With more than 12,000 employees worldwide, Cook is a privately-held medical device manufacturer headquartered in Indiana with facilities in six countries, including K-Tube Technologies in Poway. Through a program called “My Cook Pathway,” Cook eliminated its high school diploma requirement for entry-level manufacturing positions in 2017. High-potential individuals without a high school degree are hired to work at Cook in the mornings before spending the afternoon studying for their GED. During the seven weeks it takes to earn their high school equivalency (HSE), Cook pays employees full-time wages and associated fees. Furthermore, Cook has partnered with the local Ivy Tech Community College to expand the program for employees interested in AA degrees or certificate programs, fronting registration fees and associated expenses and providing guidance on the financial aid process. After overwhelming response from its employees, Cook has since expanded the program even further. Now, Cook employees can get an HSE through a Master’s degree leveraging the My Cook Pathway program. Before introducing this program, fewer than 65 employees took advantage of education reimbursement. Two years later, more than 1,000 employees are enrolled. By leveraging various state and federal funding streams that support employee education, Cook offers this benefit to its employees for less than $2,000 per employee. When Cook leadership eliminated its high school diploma requirement, they decided they wouldn’t sit back and wait for highly educated employees to show up at their door. Now, they are active participants in preparing Indiana’s future workforce, with resumes flooding their doors and employee retention rates on the rise.

Connecting Talent: Through its lauded statewide community college system and multiple universities, Indianapolis is well positioned to produce the workforce its economy needs, but the Midwestern city risks losing talent to the “lure of the coasts.” Jason Kloth, CEO of Ascend Indiana, is front and center on a statewide effort to retain talent by increasing employer access to qualified workers while supporting the residents of Indiana in their pursuit of a meaningful career. After serving in many leadership positions for Teach for America, Kloth led the City of Indianapolis Office of Education Innovation (OEI) as the deputy mayor of education under Mayor Greg Ballard. Kloth is the mastermind behind Ascend, a nonprofit focused on creating a stronger alignment between the supply of skilled talent and demand from employers in Central Indiana. Ascend has raised more than $10 million to support its work. The organization provides strategic consulting services to help high-growth companies identify, evaluate, and secure education partners to deliver a custom talent pipeline, usually in less than a year. In a recent project with medical device giant Roche, Ascend partnered with the University of Indianapolis to address the company’s shortage of technicians fueled by increased retirement turnover. The result was a work-ready pipeline of 25 skilled, entry-level professionals in less than 12 months. Ascend has also created a next-level, cloud-based platform called “the Ascend Network” that matches qualified talent from 14 higher education institutions to positions at more than 70 large companies. The platform has helped place more than 400 individuals in Indiana. Through its experienced team of recruiters and matching algorithms, Ascend ensures high quality candidates and speeds up the hiring process for both individuals and companies. Needless to say, our group was astonished.

Before returning home, many members of our San Diego group continued onto Washington D.C. for a day at the Brookings Institution. The group was welcomed by Amy Liu, vice president and director of the Brookings Metropolitan Program, before Brookings fellows facilitated a series of discussions on how and why other metros are approaching inclusive growth to help us think more broadly about strategies for succeeding in a rapidly-changing economy.

 San Diego’s Progress

After spending much of 2017 deepening our understanding of regional challenges facing San Diego, EDC has spent 2018 assembling an employer-led steering committee to build an inclusive growth agenda that benefits more people, companies and communities. Guided by the findings of a recent EDC study, EDC’s Inclusive Growth Steering Committee recently endorsed a regional goal to double the number of skilled workers produced in San Diego County to 20,000 per year by 2030. To support this goal, the committee developed recommendations around transparency, engagement, and investment for employers to adopt and implement within their own organizations. EDC continues to work with the steering committee to set goals and recommendations for employer engagement around our other two pillars of inclusive growth; small business competitiveness and addressing affordability.

Before Indy, we traveled to Nashville and Louisville, smaller regions confronting deeply entrenched histories of racial segregation and poverty. Indianapolis is home to one of the largest endowments in the country and would not be where it is today without the investment of the Lilly family. Each metro is unique in its history, resources, and politics, and will inevitably need to craft an inclusive economic development strategy that works for their community based on their particular circumstance. However, inclusive growth as both an economic and moral imperative is a sentiment that permeates among more and more leaders nationwide.

Regardless of how different our circumstance may be from Nashville, Louisville, or Indianapolis, the authenticity that is threaded throughout our visits each year encourages an honest dialogue among our San Diego delegation, leading to a heightened sense of unity in purpose and mission amongst our investors and newer partners. There is much to be done, but EDC and our stakeholders are committed to this work. It will remain driven by collaboration, coordination, and honesty. EDC’s mission is to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. To live up to that mission, our economic development strategies must promote growth through inclusion.

Learn more at inclusiveSD.org.

September 21, 2018

San Diego’s Economic Pulse uses data to tell a story about our regional economy. This issue covers data from August 2018. Check out EDC's research bureau for more data & stats about San Diego's economy. 

Monthly Employment Change by Sector
 

 

 


 

September 19, 2018

Originally published in The Wall Street Journal.
 
Among the 50 largest metros in the U.S., San Diego ranked the highest in the nation for median household income growth. This is largely due to its abundant supply of booming tech and biotech companies, like Amazon and Sony, willing to pay big bucks for top talent. Read more in The Wall Street Journal article below.
 
If the U.S. economy is on fire, California is its white hot center.
 
Of the 50 largest metros, five of the 10 with the biggest income gains are located in California, where a diverse economy has been adding jobs across industries including construction, tourism and technology. No other state had more than one region in the top ten.
 
According to census data, the San Diego area, fueled by high-paying job growth in telecoms and biotech, gained most among the 50. Median annual household income rose 5.4% in 2017 to $76,207. The Silicon Valley area, including San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, followed closely with a 4.6% rise in median income to $117,474.
 
With most of California’s major cities at or near full employment, there are more jobs than job seekers in some sectors and that has driven up wages, economists said. Very high incomes in some of the state’s dominant sectors, including technology, have also pulled up the median.
 
“We don’t have slack in many of our labor markets in California and so you get wage increases,” said Jerry Nickelsburg, a senior economist at the University of California-Los Angeles.
 
California’s economy, which grew 3% in 2017, has in recent years outpaced growth in the overall nation. It now ranks as the fifth-largest economy in the world, surpassing the United Kingdom last year.
 
Still, a high cost of living driven by surging housing costs has raised concerns about the sustainability of the state’s growth and whether most residents are benefiting from it. California has the highest home prices of any state and nearly 30% of renters here pay more than half of their income toward rent, according to recent data from the state’s housing department. By some measures that account for cost of living, the state has the highest poverty rate in the country.
 
“As economic development professionals, we celebrate reports like this, but we also know if you dig further into the numbers...there is more work to be done,” said Erik Caldwell, Economic Development Director for the city of San Diego. He said his city’s historic industry clusters were having a new growth spurt, driving up incomes.
 
The tech boom is even helping to boost California regions beyond the coastal meccas where such businesses are based. Median income in the so-called Inland Empire, which includes Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario, rose 4.3%, the third-biggest gain in California and No. 6 among the 50 largest metro areas, to $61,994.
 
One of the top distribution hubs in North America, the Inland Empire has benefited tremendously from the growth in e-commerce. Amazon.com Inc. has some fulfillment centers there.
 
Christopher Thornberg, founder of Los Angeles-based research group Beacon Economics, said the Inland Empire economy was “on fire,” though he noted that residents who commute to nearby Los Angeles or elsewhere were likely pulling up the median household income.
 
Median income growth in the Los Angeles area ranked just below the Inland Empire, rising 4% last year to $69,992.
September 6, 2018

In an effort to build a more inclusive economy, San Diego Regional EDC and its Inclusive Growth Steering Committee of 40 employers officially endorsed a regional goal to double the number of skilled workers produced in San Diego County to 20,000 per year by 2030, as well as a set of recommendations, to develop a stronger local talent pipeline – the first of three main goals of EDC’s Inclusive Growth initiative.

“We have untapped talent all throughout San Diego County, especially in our Latino communities,” said Dr. Patricia Prado-Olmos, vice president of community engagement, California State University San Marcos, and Inclusive Growth Steering Committee member. “When higher education and companies come together to provide our traditionally underserved populations with the education, training, and development they need to qualify for highly-skilled and high-paying jobs, we are able to create a better San Diego where everyone can thrive.”

BUILDING THE TALENT PIPELINE
Amid a nationwide battle for skilled talent, San Diego must also look inward and focus on building a stronger talent pipeline locally to sustain its growth. Earlier this year, EDC released research that shows the region’s largest and fastest growing population (Hispanics) is statistically the least prepared for high-skilled high-wage jobs, with 85 percent without a bachelor’s degree.

In its latest study release, EDC found that there are more than 100 key occupations in the region with shortages in skilled labor, many of which fuel San Diego’s innovation economy. Projections show an estimated 20,000 job openings per year in these same occupations, which means that San Diego’s current talent supply falls short in meeting anticipated skilled labor demands of tomorrow’s economy. The study also found that San Diego’s current innovation economy does not reflect the region’s population, as the Hispanic population is glaringly underrepresented at only 17 percent. Guided by the findings of this study and input from expert advisors, EDC’s Inclusive Growth Steering Committee—comprised of 40 regional employers—has endorsed a regional goal to double the number of skilled workers produced in San Diego County to 20,000 per year by 2030.

Companies that have officially endorsed this regional target include Northrop Grumman, Qualcomm, Brown Law Group, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Cox Communications, ResMed, Cubic Transportation Systems, and more. For a complete list of employers committed to this effort, visit the interactive web study online.

To further support this goal, the Inclusive Growth Steering Committee has also developed the following recommendations for employers to adopt and implement at their organizations:

  1. Transparency – provide EDC with anonymized data on workforce demographics to benchmark and track over time. Understanding the composition of the region’s largest employers will provide insight into where the region stands at present and how much progress is being made over time.
  2. Engagement – participate in direct student-workplace exposure programs that directly engage the students aimed to prepare for high-skilled work in 2030. Providing K-12 students with opportunities to visualize themselves in the roles that the regional economy needs them to fill.
  3. Investment – invest in post-secondary educational programs resulting in qualified talent at respective workplace.

“Latinos are the most underrepresented group across innovation companies in San Diego,” said Cynthia Curiel, vice president of communications, Northrop Grumman, and Inclusive Growth Steering Committee member. “We are in a war for talent, and recruiting from outside the region isn’t enough. By investing in building our local workforce, we can fill jobs and lift communities that are currently underrepresented in San Diego’s innovation economy.“

EDC and the Inclusive Growth Steering Committee strongly encourage other regional employers to adopt these recommendations and actively promote inclusion at their respective workplaces.

BUILDING A STRONGER SAN DIEGO: EDC’S INCLUSIVE GROWTH INITIATIVE

Like many of its metro counterparts, San Diego has its fair share of economic challenges. While its innovation economy continues to grow and bring in much wealth and opportunity to the region, it also leaves many San Diegans unable to afford the rising cost of living.

To help sustain San Diego’s future growth, EDC launched a data-driven initiative focused on promoting inclusive growth as an economic imperative, emphasizing that San Diego employers must take active measures to promote inclusion, or the region will no longer be able to compete.

Together with its Inclusive Growth Steering Committee, EDC aims to set regional targets and release actionable recommendations for three main goals: build a strong local talent pool; equip small businesses to compete; and address the affordability crisis.

“The regional economy is changing rapidly, and we must be inclusive to succeed and compete,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “For EDC, this means changing the economic development discussion to be talent-centric and inclusive in nature. These recommendations represent the first step in our regional employers’ commitment to developing local talent and preparing a workforce that is diverse, ambitious, and capable of meeting the demands of our growing economy.”

Over the next several months, EDC will continue to establish regional targets and recommendations for its other two goals. EDC will also support employers by facilitating the collection of data for quick, consistent reporting and serving as a liaison between employers and various community partners to expand reach and increase exposure of scalable programs.

For more information about the Inclusive Growth initiative, visit inclusiveSD.org.

Follow along on social media with #inclusiveSD

View the full interactive web study release – “Building San Diego’s Talent Pipeline” – here.