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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

May 2019

May 31, 2019

Meet Manuel Rodriguez, market president and commercial banking team leader at U.S. Bank. Read the Q&A below, get to know Manuel and find out how U.S. Bank’s mission aligns well with the work EDC is doing.

What is your “day job”?

As the San Diego market president and commercial banking team leader at U.S. Bank, I lead a team of experienced commercial bankers who are dedicated to providing financial solutions to mid-sized organizations. I lead the company-wide efforts and activities in San Diego County and chair the San Diego market’s charitable foundation committee, partnering with senior leaders from across U.S. Bank to best serve the community.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

EDC’s mission to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness aligns very well with U.S. Bank’s commitment of investing our time, resources, and passion in economic development by supporting efforts to create stable jobs, better homes, and vibrant communities. 

Favorite quote?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

My life-changing moment was deciding to go to college 1,500 miles away from where I grew up, out of my comfort zone and in a city/state where I didn’t know anyone. This led me to my first job in banking, which then provided me the opportunity to live and work in many wonderful cities including San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Dallas. I was also fortunate enough to meet my wife (a native San Diegan) along the way, which ultimately led us and our four kids to relocate and make San Diego our permanent home!

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

There’s a lot going on at EDC, and I’m new to the board. However, I’m particularly interested in the Inclusive economic growth initiative.


May 24, 2019

Meet Tom Pellette, President of Solar Turbines. Read the Q&A below to get to know Tom and find out why a global company, like Solar Turbines, finds value in San Diego Regional EDC.

What is your “day job”?

As President, I am responsible for driving Solar Turbines’ strategic direction as we design, develop, manufacture, and service innovative energy solutions. Solar is a leading provider of industrial gas turbine generator, compressor, and mechanical drive packages. We provide best-in-class service support and connected product technology to drive value for customers around the world.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

As a global company that has been in San Diego for more than 90 years, Solar Turbines recognizes the critical importance of organizations like EDC to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness.

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

Getting my first job at Solar Turbines. I have been fortunate to have a long, fulfilling career of 26 years both at Solar Turbines and Caterpillar, our parent company. For much of my career, I have been lucky to call San Diego my home.

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

All of the programs at EDC are important because of their ability to coordinate and represent corporate interests, from supporting international trade, to fostering local talent development, and maximizing economic prosperity to promote San Diego as a globally competitive region.


May 23, 2019

Planck Aerosystems, a technology company that develops specialized drones, was awarded a $25,000 voucher as part of its participation in the inaugural Defense Innovation Voucher Program (DIV) Grand Prize Pitch. Launched in 2018 to help small and mid-sized defense companies in San Diego scale, the DIV Program worked directly with 15 local defense companies throughout 2018-2019, providing strategic boot camps and business consulting services via an initial $15,000 grant to aid in strengthening and expanding company operations.

“Our local defense economy supports one in five jobs, and small businesses represent 98 percent of total companies in our region,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “This is why EDC is committed to building programs that promote defense innovation and build resiliency in small and mid-sized businesses.”

Five DIV companies were chosen to participate in the DIV Grand Prize Pitch, based on their accomplishments, goals and overall involvement in the program. The finalists were EpiSci (EpiSys Science Inc.), Fuse Integration, Inc., GET Engineering Corporation, Planck Aerosystems and Trabus Technologies.

A live voting audience and a panel of judges selected Planck Aerosystems as the winner.

Planck is thrilled to win the Grand Prize Pitch event and be a part of DIV’s first year,” said Dave Twining, COO of Planck Aerosystems. “Thanks to San Diego Regional EDC, Booz Allen Hamilton and Propel San Diego for your guidance and support through the DIV program. We’ll be using the funds to scale our marketing efforts, which we hope will generate additional sales and investment in San Diego.”

In its inaugural year, the DIV program provided two primary benefits to chosen participants. Companies selected a pre-approved contractor to assist with services including marketing, certifications needed for government work, strategic planning, accounting compliance or lean supply chain & additive manufacturing support. Additionally, participants enrolled in a six-month-long boot camp, which provided best practices and strategies on topics ranging from contract procurement to fundraising to marketing and branding.

“We are proud to support the continued innovation that is a hallmark of the San Diego defense community,” said Jennie Brooks, senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton. “At Booz Allen, we empower people to change the world, and DIV’s mission helps empower and strengthen the small and mid-size businesses that are bringing an incredible range of solutions to all branches of the military.”

Managed by San Diego Regional EDC, DIV is primarily funded through Propel San Diego, a grant award provided to the City of San Diego from the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment. Additional programmatic funding for DIV is provided by Booz Allen Hamilton, the presenting sponsor.

The DIV Grand Prize Pitch event was hosted at San Diego Central Library on Thursday, May 23, with a keynote presentation by Marisa Silva, partner at Booz Allen Hamilton.

May 23, 2019

San Diego Regional EDC welcomes new investor Aerotek to its membership of more than 180 companies in the region. Headquartered in Maryland, this privately-owned staffing company has more than 230 integrated offices throughout the United States and Canada. They have had a presence in San Diego County for 25-plus years, currently operating out of San Marcos, Scripps Ranch, and Kearny Mesa. In 2018, Aerotek grossed $6.6 billion in revenue and they continue to maintain more than 100,000 active contract employees weekly.

Aerotek’s mission is to bring great people and great organizations together, which functions well in San Diego’s diverse and robust economy. This has also allowed them to serve many people throughout different professional industries. Additionally, Aerotek has benefited from San Diego’s deep talent base and strong economic prowess, and of course from the features that make San Diego so Life. Changing. From the beautiful beaches and Petco Park to Old Town’s rich and historic culture, it is easy to see why Aerotek chose to open offices in San Diego.


May 17, 2019

For the next installment in our Board Member Spotlight series, we are pleased to introduce Dennis Doucette, partner at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, LLP. Read the Q&A below and get to know Dennis and how he effects San Diego’s economic development outside of his role as one of EDC’s board members.

What is your “day job”?

I assist in company forming, funding, and selling. As a corporate attorney, I help my clients realize their goals with efficient legal and business solutions. I have been fortunate to have worked on more than 400 transactions representing buyers, sellers, and investors.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

I have served on many for-profit and non-profit boards and look forward to assisting EDC in its mission to make San Diego a better place for all companies and their employees.

Favorite quote?

“It often requires more courage to dare to do right than fear to do wrong.”

- Abraham Lincoln

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

Meeting my wife Margot and enjoying every day together.

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

Direct economic support to companies.


May 17, 2019

Each month the California Employment Development Department (EDD) releases employment data for the prior month. This edition of San Diego's Economic Pulse covers April 2019. Check out EDC's research bureau for more data and stats about San Diego's economy. 

This report is sponsored by Manpower San Diego.

Highlights include:

  • The region’s unemployment rate was 3.0 percent in April, down from a revised 3.6 percent in March 2019, and below the year-ago estimate of 3.1 percent
  • The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than both the state and national unemployment rates of 3.9 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively
  • Between March 2019 and April 2019, total nonfarm employment increased from 1,492,600 to 1,500,400, adding 7,800 jobs
  • Between April 2018 and April 2019, total nonfarm employment increased from 1,480,000 to 1,500,400, adding 20,400 jobs
  • Between April 2018 and April 2019, education and health services led the year-over gain, adding 7,600 jobs

May 7, 2019

Small businesses + defense economy = our future.
It's simple math.

  • Small businesses represent 98% of San Diego companies
  • The defense economy supports 1 in 5 jobs in San Diego

That's why EDC is focused on helping small and mid-sized defense companies grow.

What is DIV?
In 2018, we launched the Defense Innovation Voucher Program(DIV). Thanks to funding provided from the Department of Defense, EDC worked directly with 15 companies to provide consulting services (think: marketing assistance, certifications, accounting compliance, and more) and a six-month long crash course designed to help these participants win high-value government contracts and find other revenue streams.

What's next?
Now, we need your help taking DIV to the next level. On May 23, we're inviting five companies to share their story and pitch for the grand prize - an additional $25k in funding. And YOU - the audience - gets to help pick the winner. 

Event details: 
Grand Prize Pitch
Thursday, May 23 | 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
San Diego Central Library – Shiley Special Events Suite

Who should attend?

  • Defense industry employees that want a better grasp of market trends
  • Startups interested in connecting with other high-growth companies
  • Services providers looking for their next client
  • Anyone that cares about the future of San Diego

The participating companies:

  • EpiSci (EpiSys Science, Inc.) was founded in 2012, with the vision that future disruptive innovations would be derived from the paradigm of systems science. Through its deep technical expertise in multiple emerging areas, EpiSci develops the most innovative systems solutions for defense, intelligence, and commercial applications.
  • Fuse Integration, Inc. was founded with a noble cause of bringing the benefits of commercial human-centered design processes to first responder and military systems engineering. Fuse is working hard to lead the charge with an agile approach to development and a rapid prototyping ethos for the way they build systems.
  • GET Engineering Corporation is a leading-edge, high technology engineering firm providing tactical data solutions to government and industrial clients. GET is a small business dedicated to providing the U.S. Department of Defense and its coalition forces the most cost effective tactical communication products and solutions available.
  • Planck Aerosystems combines artificial intelligence, advanced controls, computer vision, and rigorous testing to enable drones to operate from moving platforms and execute fully autonomous missions. Its customers include government agencies and commercial maritime operators.
  • Trabus Technologies is a high-tech IT and engineering corporation that continues to expand its impressive portfolio of capabilities, programs, and services. Trabus Technologies thrives on practical solutions to the toughest challenges in cyber, wireless, and unmanned systems.

This project is funded with Community Economic Adjustment Assistance for Reductions in Defense Industry Employment funds provided by the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment to the City of San Diego.

Join us on May 23 for the Defense Innovation Voucher Program Pitch event, beginning at 9 a.m. at San Diego Central Library – Shiley Special.

May 3, 2019

Thank you to everyone who attended San Diego Regional EDC's 53rd Annual Dinner, underwritten by Point Loma Nazarene University

At the event on May 2, 2019, we honored Dr. Karen Haynes, president of CSU San Marcos, with the Herb Klein Civic Leadership Award presented by Sony Electronics and ResMed with the Duane Roth Renaissance Award, presented by UC San Diego. Plus, we welcomed 10 new directors and two newly appointed trustees to our board. 

And the annual celebration was finished off with some inspiring remarks from our chair Janice Brown. She talked about how we're creating a more inclusive economy and climbing the second mountain. But this requires collaboration.

As we launch Advancing San Diego, - an effort to strengthen our local workforce by connecting all San Diegans with jobs - we will need your help. Fill out the form below, and we'll be in touch once the program is underway.

*Join us in Advancing San Diego.*

Also, check out the video of drone startup Planck Aerosystems that premiered last night. Whether you are a longstanding EDC investor, board member, partner, or a new friend, each and every one of you has helped us create a stronger San Diego, one company at a time. 

Building a stronger San Diego with Planck Aerospace from San Diego Regional EDC on Vimeo.

May 3, 2019

EDC welcomed 10 new directors to its board, with Janice Brown, founder of Brown Law Group, continuing to serve as chair through May 2020. The board will help guide the programs and initiatives for the privately-funded, nonprofit organization with more than 180 investors.

“I’m thrilled to continue serving as board chair of EDC,” said Janice Brown, founder of Brown Law Group and chair of EDC. “EDC’s board is now stronger than ever. With our pool of dedicated board members, we will be able to set an impactful agenda for all of San Diego’s economy, lifting every community in our region. I truly believe there’s no mountain high enough for us to overcome, San Diego!”

EDC’s board is comprised of elected directors and trustees representing partner organizations in the business community. Directors are vetted by EDC’s governance committee and elected annually by its membership to serve two-year terms. For 2019, 25 directors were re-elected alongside 10 new directors. Two new trustees were also appointed by the organization’s executive committee. The board represents executives from companies, organizations, institutions and the military along with elected officials, who are all working cohesively to advance San Diego’s economy.

“Thanks to the support from our investors, board and the entire San Diego business community, EDC is working to positively shape the region’s future.” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional EDC. “Together, we can make San Diego a better place to live and work for all residents and businesses.”

2019 Officers:

Chair –  Janice Brown, Founder at The Brown Law Group

Vice Chair – Rob Douglas, President and COO at ResMed, Inc.

Vice Chair – Julian Parra, Business Banking Executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Treasurer – June Komar, Executive Vice President at Scripps Health

Secretary – Phil Blair, President and CEO at Manpower San Diego

Mark Cafferty, President and CEO at San Diego Regional EDC


Newly elected Directors:

Dennis Doucette, Partner at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Cheryl Goodman, Head of Corporate Communications at Sony Electronics  

Dan Harrington, EVP and Chief Services Officer at Teradata

Don Kearns, President Emeritus at Rady Children’s Hospital 

Mark Navarra, Managing Partner at Jerome’s Furniture

Mike Neal, President and CEO at HG Fenton 

Tom Pellette, President at Solar Turbines

Greg Richardson, Lead Advisor at Dowling & Yahnke  

Manuel Rodriguez, Market President at US Bank

Matt Thoene, CEO at AIS

Newly appointed Trustees:

Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director at San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)

Jim Madaffer, Board Chair at San Diego County Water Authority

On the horizon for 2019

With and through its investors, EDC will remain focused on sustaining and growing existing initiatives and programs including San Diego: Life. Changing, the Defense Innovation Voucher Program, regional research and Innovate78World Trade Center San Diego, an affiliate of EDC, will continue to drive an international agenda for San Diego through programs including MetroConnect as well as an upcoming trade mission to Germany in late 2019.

Additionally, EDC will continue to support companies of all sizes with their growth efforts by assisting with regulatory/permitting support, economic incentive consulting, strategic partnerships and more. EDC services are underwritten by its investors that believe in creating a more prosperous San Diego, and are free-of-charge to companies looking to expand, stay or locate in the San Diego region. In 2018 alone, EDC directly assisted more than 170 companies, which represented approximately 7,000 jobs in San Diego.

Announced in April, EDC will be launching Advancing San Diego, which is made possible through a $3 million grant provided by the JPMorgan Chase AdvancingCities initiative. This grant will complement EDC’s ongoing inclusive growth strategy. In collaboration with City of San Diego, San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA)San Diego Workforce Partnership and United Way of San Diego County, the program seeks to strengthen the region’s local workforce by enhancing relationships between employers and education systems.