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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Economic Drivers

October 18, 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 September 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.

San Diego's Economic Pulse - October 2019 from San Diego Regional EDC on Vimeo.

Highlights include:

  • The region’s unemployment rate was 2.7 percent in September, down from a revised 3.4 percent in August 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 3.5 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively
  • Between August 2019 and September 2019, total nonfarm employment increased from 1,510,400 to 1,515,000, adding 4,600 jobs
  • Between September 2018 and September 2019, total nonfarm employment increased from 1,484,400 to 1,515,000, adding 30,600 jobs
  • Between September 2018 and September 2019, professional and business services led the year-over gain, adding 7,700 jobs and mostly driven by growth in professional, scientific, and technical services (up 6,600)

October 11, 2019

Every first Friday in October, manufacturers across the country open their doors in a coordinated effort to address common misconceptions about their industry. By inviting the public in to see day-to-day operations firsthand, manufacturers are able to form relationships with potential employees, educators, and partners and facilitate conversations about the skilled labor shortage and the overall changes occurring as a result of the evolving global economy.

With the help of underwriter Samsung and sponsors CMTC and Walmart, San Diego Regional EDC celebrated this year’s National Manufacturing Day with a hosted roundtable reception at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station. The guest of honor was Dr. Jaana Remes, economist and partner at the McKinsey Global Institute. As a lead researcher on productivity, urbanization, competitiveness, and growth, Dr. Remes was able to speak candidly with 45 manufacturers and partners from across the region about their perspective on changes in the industry, how it compares to the rest of the world, and what we can expect for the future of American manufacturing.

Dr. Remes referenced community and government involvement as being especially important to the continued success of an industry that accounts for 12% of America’s GDP, 35% of America’s productivity growth, and 60% of America’s exports. As the skills demanded shift more toward technological and socioemotional, our college education system’s ability to mold its curriculum to the needs of employers proves to be a key ingredient in this recipe for successful change.

During the roundtable, attendees participated in engaging conversations about how evolving business models, like that of Amazon, are changing the way manufacturers must interact with their end users. Taylor Guitars shared a new tactic for product retail display as traditional brick and mortar stores become more and more obsolete, and TaylorMade Golf touched on how their customer demographic may cause their adaptations to look different from, say, a medical device manufacturer’s. Dr. Reme’s advice? “Find your niche. Figure out your customer base and change your production based on that.”

To learn more about the work of McKinsey Global Institute, or to download their research, visit


October 9, 2019

With and through our investors, EDC works to maximize San Diego’s economic competitiveness. 

A quick glimpse by the numbers of San Diego Regional EDC's Q3 includes: 

  • Thanks to the regional support provided by our team, 5,176 jobs impacted, YTD
  • $69 million net increase in exports supported by the MetroConnect program, which is led by World Trade Center San Diego
  • The award-winning San Diego: Life. Changing. campaign garnered 1.2 million social media impressions
  • The Research team's findings showed that 59% of all jobs in San Diego are in small businesses


**Learn more by checking out our full Q3 2019 report here.** 

October 9, 2019

The Integration Pilot Program is an initiative led by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an agency within the United Stated Department of Transportation. This program is designed to create the safe integration of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) into National Airspace. Utilizing the data collected throughout the course of the program, the FAA evaluates existing processes, regulation, and legality around the use of UAS. San Diego is one of 10 jurisdictions chosen to participate in the program, and only one of 2 urban environments.

Previously run by the City of San Diego’s Office of Homeland Security, in July 2019, the program was turned over the City’s Economic Development Department, with EDC serving as the program manager.

IPP has since undergone a thorough evaluation, the scope of work has shifted from a public safety lens to an economic development focus. The program is now dependent on strong partnerships from UAS industry leaders ranging from technical experts to operators and software technology partners. The EDC recently planned and executed the first all-hands, in-person partnership meeting since the inception of the program. The meeting gave way for building a mission, vision, achievable objectives, and more collaborative approach.

Also in Q3 2019, there was a significant change to one of the program’s core focuses, shifting from International Commerce to a broader category of International Security and Environmental Protection, in order to expand its operations to waterways. This change allowed for two new partners to join the program—Planck Aerosystems (also part of the 2017 MetroConnect cohort and DIV Grand Prize PitchFest winner) and Anduril Industries. Additionally, the program was approved to add a partner specifically for its medical specimen delivery project.

Other program highlights from Q3 2019: San Diego IPP team was featured on a panel at the North Carolina Drone Summit to discuss the future of Urban Air Mobility. Additionally, the Chula Vista Police Department’s Drone as a First Responder project under the IPP has surpassed 900 successful response flights. The program held a successful public workshop to discuss the commercial UAS market with 40 attendees at the University Community Library and Councilwoman Barbara Bry was in attendance.



October 8, 2019

As part of its inclusive growth initiative, EDC hosted individuals for a supplier diversity forum that included more than 20 entities in the region with large purchasing and procurement capacity.

The purpose of the forum was to promote the importance of large companies in supporting small and diverse businesses through their procurement and purchasing decisions. Though many large firms in San Diego procure billions of dollars of good and service each year, local small businesses struggle to compete for their attention. Additionally, the large buyers in the room shared their goals, processes, and challenges in reaching San Diego’s small, diverse, and disadvantaged businesses.

Following the supplier diversity forum, EDC also hosted a networking reception with Apple’s Supplier Diversity team. This gave attendees an opportunity to learn about the tech giant’s goals and objectives as the company continues to unfold its expansion plans for a new San Diego campus. The reception included 75 attendees from diverse suppliers in both construction and operations.

October 3, 2019
From December 2018 and January 2019, the San Diego Small Business Lending Collaborative surveyed 129 existing and 101 prospective business owners in three San Diego Promise Zone zip codes (92102, 92113 and 92114). The purpose of the survey was to identify barriers for small business establishment and growth within the San Diego Promise Zone, a geographic area comprising of Barrio Logan, Southeastern San Diego, and Encanto. Historically disadvantaged, the culturally rich communities within the San Diego Promise Zone possess unique barriers that inhibit economic growth.
The study, written by the San Diego Regional EDC, found that the biggest challenge business owners face is related to credit/financing. Only 12 percent of business owners have ever applied for business financing, and out of those who have, they found only expensive options or were declined due to bad credit or income requirements. The final report outlines recommendations and strategies for small business owners in the San Diego Promise Zone to overcome these obstacles and grow their companies. For example, expanding access to entrepreneurship training and accelerator programs for low to moderate income populations.
**Read the full report here.**

October 3, 2019

As a way to inspire new approaches to inclusive economic development, EDC organizes an annual leadership trip with its partners and stakeholders in a peer region facing similar challenges. This year, EDC led a delegation of more than 40 San Diegans to Atlanta, Georgia – a city with deep cultural and historical significance. After three full days of dialogue with some of Atlanta's most progressive and impactful leaders, our group came home with three main takeaways.

1. The decisions we make today will have lasting impacts on future generations.
We started off the leadership trip the way EDC approaches everything we do: with research. We learned how Atlanta's history of racial inequity directly impacted the way the city was developed. It affected where public transportation would run, where good schools were built, who received loans to buy a house or start new businesses, and much more. Rohit Malhotra of Center of Civic Innovation stated, "96% of people born poor in Atlanta will die poor in Atlanta." The disparities facing Atlantans today are deeply rooted in the region's history. And because it's leaders are willing to take a honest look at that history, that they are able to bring about lasting change. This inspired thoughtful discussion on how San Diego's own history has shaped the way our communities live today, and will hopefully lead to further investigation into our region's past, so that we can create sustainable solutions for our future.

2. Transportation can either exacerbate or alleviate existing problems.
Perhaps the biggest historic factor inhibiting Atlantan’s economic prosperity is access to transportation.  Because the city was designed to separate black and white populations, many low-income areas of the region simply do not have access to good jobs and affordable housing. In reference to predicting economic and health outcomes for Atlantans, Carol Naughton of Purpose Built Communities shared that "zip code impacts more than genetic code." To combat this, organizations like Purpose Built Communities, TransFormation Alliance, and Historic District Development Corporation formed and work together to create an infrastructure that will support healthy, sustainable, and affordable communities. Thanks to their support and a transformational vision for redevelopment by Ryan Gravel, the Atlanta BeltLine was created to connect disparate neighborhoods and is drastically changing the way people live. That kind of positive peer pressure is what is bringing about change unlike anything the city of Atlanta has ever seen before. People who were previously displaced from quality jobs and access to transportation can now walk or bike to the grocery store to buy healthy food for their families. They can walk to a quality job that pays enough to support themselves. The thoughtful collaboration between these entities shows us that this level of systems change is, in fact, possible when organizations work together to take action.

3. It's critical for younger generations to see themselves in leadership roles.
Inside the historic International Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel at Morehouse College, we heard about the importance of talent development investments from members of the Atlanta University Center Consortium. As Spellman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell eloquently said, "when students are affirmed, they do better." Organizations like Cristo Rey Atlanta High School, a private school for underserved students who don't pay tuition, help students and their families with hands-on college preparation, like the college application process. Interim President Camille Naughton said, "It's barriers like filling out a FAFSA application that keeps students out of college - not intellect or lack of desire." Clearly, the education systems in Atlanta understand that a bright future in Atlanta largely depends on significant investment in its students today. We also heard from Brookings Institution Fellow Rodney Sampson, who co-founded the Opportunity Hub (OHUBS) to eliminate barriers for minority tech founders. Rodney believes that building an inclusive economic ecosystem starts with early exposure to innovation and socialization. He said, "When you're exposed to innovative ecosystems, the trajectory of your ability to acquire wealth changes." Through organizations like these, students and young entrepreneurs see that they're worth investing in. They see themselves as a leader, who can take action and make an impact.

From hearing about innovative talent development strategies and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems at Morehouse College, to walking along the Atlanta BeltLine that is radically changing the connectivity of Atlantas's neighborhoods, our group gained invaluable insights that spurred thoughtful conversations about creating a better San Diego that works for all. The transformation in Atlanta was palpable. After immersing ourselves in its rich history and hearing first-hand experiences from Atlanta's civic, education, and business leaders, one thing is clear: our inclusive growth work in San Diego is far from over, but we're on the right path.


This trip was made possible through generous support from Southwest Airlines and Cox Communications.

To learn more about EDC's Inclusive Growth effort, visit or follow along on social media at #inclusiveSD.



October 3, 2019

Sysmex Corporation, a global medical device manufacturing company with its HQ in Kobe, Japan, was looking to enlarge their US-based presence.

With San Diego as a target destination for expansion, Sysmex contacted EDC with details on the company’s plans to expand its life science operations by leveraging proprietary technologies to create new testing and diagnostic technologies that help provide optimal healthcare for all. Sysmex distributes and supports automated in vitro diagnostic hematology, coagulation and urinalysis analyzers, reagents and information systems for laboratories and healthcare facilities throughout the Western Hemisphere.

The company was interested in piloting their US presence with a research and development lab staffed with ten initial full-time employees. EDC provided a list of properties using a site selection database that met Sysmex’s requirements for location characteristics. In order to coordinate site logistic tours and provide Sysmex additional market perspectives on the potential locations, EDC leveraged its connections with CBRE’s sales division. CBRE was able to conduct a tour with Sysmex on nine different locations across the region.

Sysmex is now in the process of finalizing their internal budget by mid-October, in order to establish their research and development site by December of this year. The Sysmex team is very positive regarding San Diego and establishing a future here.


October 3, 2019

For the latest installment of the Innovator’s Dinner Series, Greg Koch, executive chairman and co-founder at Stone Brewing, joined a group of 25 entrepreneurs from North County to talk about the craft beer company’s growth story along the 78 Corridor. Now leading a 23-year-old company, Greg shared his thoughts and experience on how the company has grown, where they were able to find success, and how they’ve run into challenges in the last two decades.

The conversation showed entrepreneurs that are in the trenches of growing their business how Stone dealt with similar challenges, and ultimately, became a market leader in the craft beer industry. One underlying theme for the evening: An entrepreneur with a good idea needs grit to get through challenges, and the reward can be life-changing.

The Innovator’s Dinner series is part of the Startup78 initiative, which fosters entrepreneurship and supports the startup ecosystem along the 78 Corridor. Startups and entrepreneurs in the cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista (together, Innovate78) can find out more about upcoming events at


September 20, 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 August 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.


  • The region’s unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in August, down from a revised 3.6 percent in July 2019, and below the year-ago estimate of 3.5 percent..
  • The region’s unemployment rate remains lower than both the state and national unemployment rates of 4.2 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively
  • Construction (up 2,900) added the largest number of jobs over the month, with gains centered in speciality trade contractors(up 1,800)
  • Between August 2018 and August 2019, total nonfarm employment increased from 1,485,300 to 1,512,700, adding 27,400 jobs.
  • Government (up 8,400) followed by professional & business services(up 6,600) led job growth during the past year