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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Innovate78

April 9, 2019

From inclusive growth to San Diego: Life. Changing., many of EDC's most high profile initiatives have a similar origin story: they started with bringing the right people around the table. Looking to spur similar programs and initiatives on the 78 Corridor, Innovate78, a program funded by the five cities along the 78 Corridor (Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista) and managed by EDC, hosted its first Innovator Dinner in March 2019.

 The Innovators Dinner Series is designed to bring together a diversity of people, engaging in meaningful conversations about how we can all grow and build a more prosperous North County. Bringing together 25 individuals from every corner of the 78 corridor, the wide range of industries represented—from technology to manufacturing to brewing to life sciences—reflected the strength of the corridor.

As the event got underway, the conversation gravitated toward natural themes of mentorship, access to capital, the viability of the local talent pool and more. The idea around remote work came up as well. With North County's strong quality of life and abundance of coworking spaces, many have noted a rise in remote employees based in North County. However, one entrepreneur at the Innovators Dinner bucked that trend. Although his company is located on the 78 corridor, many of his employees are remote, and live as far away as the Midwest. 

March 12, 2019

With many economists forecasting an economic downturn in the years ahead, small businesses are often the most vulnerable to a changing economy. However, a new survey released by Innovate78 – a collaboration among Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista – found that small businesses are feeling optimistic about the future. In fact, 85 percent of small businesses along the 78 Corridor project financial growth over the next two years, demonstrating stability in San Diego’s North County.

“Most small business owners are so busy running their companies, that they don't have time to step back and leverage the resources available to them,” said Michelle Geller, Economic Development Manager for the City of Escondido. “As part of Innovate78, we are taking a collaborative, data-driven approach to understand their business’ needs. Using the data from this study, we will be able to better collaborate with regional partners to ensure these businesses remain viable and a key economic engine in North County.”

The Small Business Ecosystem Along the 78 Corridor” surveyed 164 small businesses – firms with fewer than 100 employees – as a way to uncover insight and gain a deeper understanding of small business perceptions of the regional business climate.

According to EMSI, small businesses make up 98 percent of the 78 Corridor’s businesses – mirroring the broader San Diego region.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Businesses are growing.  Over the next two years, 85 percent expect to grow in terms of financial performance.
  • Companies have a focus on local customers. In total, 69 percent said their customers were primarily in Southern California, whereas only 7 percent said their customers were primarily international.
  • Job growth will continue to be fueled by small businesses. Over the next two years, 45 percent of 78 Corridor small businesses project employment growth, while only 6 percent say they will have fewer employees.
  • Generating new sales is the biggest need for small business owners. A majority –88 percent – of small businesses said sales/new business was a challenge. As a way to generate sales, survey respondents identified ‘marketing’ as their highest future priority. 
  •  Connecting to resources is imperative. Small business identified needing assistance with financing, marketing and business development. However, many cited a lack of knowledge of available resource providers, like municipalities, economic development organizations, and chambers of commerce.

 “A quick glance at the data confirms that small businesses are a key driver for our economy. But when you dig a little deeper, you uncover trends that are key to understanding the 78 Corridor’s competitive advantage,” said Kirby Brady, director of research at EDC and the author of this study. “The study shows that small businesses along the 78 Corridor are both profitable and resilient.”

The study concluded that 73 percent of Innovate78 small businesses reported financial growth in the past two years, and 62 percent of businesses have been operating for more than five years, a metric often associated with resiliency. According to the Small Business Administration, nearly 50 percent of small businesses fail before the five-year mark. While not a direct comparison, this data suggests that small businesses along the 78 Corridor are outlasting U.S. small businesses.  

CHALLENGES AHEAD:

While Innovate78 businesses are faring well collectively, many challenges remain. With the 78 Corridor’s December 2018 unemployment rate at 3.2 percent, finding skilled talent is increasingly difficult – a trend many rapidly growing regions across the country are facing.

 “From hiring to finding new customers, I face many challenges on a day-to-day basis that I did not anticipate before starting my own business,” said Jiang Fan, president of Carlsbad-based American Lithium Energy. “While these are trials that many small business owners face, I believe that because of the 78 Corridor’s unique access to both San Diego and Orange County’s labor market, as well as the abundant resources the cities offer, that there’s never been a better time to own a small business on the 78 Corridor.”

If you are a business along the 78 Corridor and are looking to connect with available resources, please visit Innovate78’s resource page and/or contact your city’s economic development department directly.

Read the study here.

 

September 26, 2018

 If you had arrived at Plantible Foods in San Marcos before August 22, it would have looked much like a typical farm; greenhouses and an abundance of open space.

But a few days later the space was completely transformed for the quarterly Startup78 meetup. On August 22, more than 200 individuals gathered to learn more about the food innovation scene in San Diego's North County. From a company that turns bread scraps into vodka to two sisters on a quest to start the first museum dedicated to the avocado, North County is full of companies on the forefront of food innovation entrepreneurs. 

Every food entrepreneurs experience is different. The crowd heard from Maurtis van de Ven (Plantible Foods), Ann Buehner and Mary Carr (The Cado), Sam Chereskin (Misadventure & Company), Chuck Samuelson (Kitchens for Good), as well as representatives from Suja and Stone.

But food entrepreneurship isn't just about cashing in. Many of these founders are looking to solve some of the world's biggest problems, like hunger, health living, and food waste. Kitchens for Good is a social enterprise that seeks to minimize food waste, increase sustainability and provide culinary training for populations that are experiences high unemployment rates.

“Five-and-a-half years ago I had a very nice job with a local company, Stone Brewing, having tons of fun” said Chuck Samuelson, founder and board member of Kitchens for Good, in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nonetheless, he said  “I kept waking up thinking I’ve got to do more.”

Guests were also treated to a beer garden, full of some North County's most prominent breweries and distilleries, as well as the opportunity to sample some of North County’s tastiest food innovations.   

Startup78 is an initiative of Innovate78 and San Diego Regional EDC to unite and amplify the resources available to entrepreneurs along the 78 Corridor with the goal of helping startups scale to become long-term, viable businesses that support San Diego's economy.

Join Innovate78 for the next Startup78 event, focused on life changing science, on October 17 at the Oceanside Museum of Art. Register here.

 

 

July 13, 2018

San Marcos-based MetroConnect company Ocean Reef Group proves just what we mean by San Diego: Life. Changing. 

When twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a partly flooded cave, the diving equipment company quietly stepped in behind the headlines. On its own accord, Ocean Reef shipped thousands of dollars worth of full-face dive masks to Thailand to be worn by the young boys as they escaped the cave. After a two-week ordeal, all team members survived and were successfully extricated. This is how #SDlifechanging gets to work.

More details here.

May 18, 2018

The first cohort of biomanufacturing students at MiraCosta College is half way through their two-year bachelor’s degree program. That’s right – Oceanside-based MiraCosta Community College is one of only 15 community colleges in California to offer a bachelor’s degree program (114 total community colleges in CA). MiraCosta’s existing biotech associates degree program, which is the oldest in the county, helped the school gain prowess as a leading community college focused on life sciences. Building on that success, this new bachelor’s program will prepare students for work within San Diego’s lucrative biotechnology industry. The pioneer behind the program is Mike Fino: a UC San Diego Jacobs School alum, former industry researcher in regenerative medicine, and current Dean of Math & Sciences at MiraCosta.

With a background in industry, Mike Fino made the ideal moderator for EDC’s Link to San Diego: Life Sciences event at MiraCosta College in May. Formatted as a panel discussion followed by a networking session, Link to San Diego: Life Sciences welcomed representatives from Human Longevity Inc., Genentech, and BD to campus to speak about industry trends and lend advice to students on how they can prepare for a career in the San Diego industry. While open to all students, the program was primarily designed for MiraCosta’s biomanufacturing students to begin making industry connections and thinking about next steps as they work through their program.

The group of students who attended came prepared with resumes and thoughtful questions for the speakers. MiraCosta’s biomanufacturing BA program is a prime example of how San Diego’s community college system prepares its students based on the needs of our local economy, providing opportunities and value for residents and employers alike. Now, it’s our job to keep this bright and eager talent pool in San Diego.

July 11, 2017

Read the full profile here.

April 19, 2017

The technology cluster along the San Diego region’s 78 Corridor spans 70 different industries and 200 unique occupations. Encompassing the North County cities Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista, this well-established and diverse tech cluster is expected to grow by 5 percent over the next five years, according to a study released by Innovate78 today.

Study highlights include:

  • The 78 Corridor’s tech cluster has a $6.1 billion total economic impact annually, representing nearly 25,000 jobs.
  • North County’s technology cluster has a competitive advantage in precision manufacturing – specializing in the production of biomedical devices, telecommunications equipment and defense-related products.
  • The 78 Corridor’s tech cluster is 1.4 times more concentrated than the nation.
  • Biotech and biomed devices has been the fastest growing segment in the tech cluster, with a 9 percent increase in employment since 2011.


Read the executive summary and full study here.

February 9, 2017

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. 

September 28, 2016

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.

June 28, 2016

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).