SWA Grassroots

Southwest Airlines.

San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) serves local companies by providing them with the access to critical partners to accelerate their growth prospects; data and research to make well-informed decisions; the advocacy to maximize their investment; and the positioning needed to raise their profile and open new opportunities. Their mission is aligned with Southwest Airlines’ dedication of serving people and championing community. We are proud of our long history of giving back and empowering the communities where our Employees and Customers live and work. Partnering with EDC gives us an opportunity to help shape our region’s future and be part of something really great! Join us!

San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

As a nonprofit organization that strives to maximize San Diego’s economic growth, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has focused efforts on promoting inclusion as an economic imperative. Inclusion is about ensuring all members of the economy have equal opportunity to thrive here. Through a partnership with Southwest Airlines, EDC conducts an annual Best Practices Leadership Trip with a group of key stakeholders to visit peer metros facing similar challenges and opportunities, in the hopes of inspiring fresh approaches to San Diego’s economic development strategy. This year, EDC visited Indianapolis to learn about its collaborative approaches to inclusive growth and programs for talent development.

Though the rise of San Diego’s innovation economy has brought much wealth and opportunity to the region, it has also led to widening inequalities stemmed from changing skill requirements, a fierce battle for talent, and soaring cost of living that leaves many San Diegans behind. It is currently estimated that one million San Diegans cannot make ends meet, which has caused many residents (and companies) to relocate elsewhere.

After spending much of 2017 working alongside the Brookings Institution to gain a deeper understanding of these economic challenges, EDC launched its Inclusive Growth initiative and convened a steering committee of more than 40 of San Diego’s top employers to craft a new approach to economic development. The group has streamlined its efforts to focus on three main goals: building a strong local talent pipeline, equipping small businesses to compete, and addressing San Diego’s affordability crisis.

Many Inclusive Growth Steering Committee members also attended the leadership trip to Indianapolis, which created a heightened sense of unity and purpose. Moving presentations from Indiana leaders, namely Cook Medical and Ascend Indiana, reaffirmed the importance of rethinking talent acquisition efforts to create more sustainable pipelines between local talent and employers.

In San Diego, Hispanics represent the fastest growing population and will soon become the largest demographic group by 2030. Yet 85 percent of Hispanics in San Diego do not hold a bachelor’s degree and are vastly underrepresented in innovation economy jobs. Meanwhile, San Diego companies rely on expensive talent attraction methods which cannot alone fill the growing demand for skilled STEM talent. For our economy to remain sustainable, we must focus our efforts on building a strong local talent pipeline, in which San Diego residents have the resources necessary to fill the jobs of our growing economy.

EDC recently released an interactive web study – talent.inclusivesd.org – which illustrates staggering data points that ultimately informed the regional goal to double San Diego’s annual production of skilled workers to 20,000 by the year 2030. To support this goal, the Inclusive Growth Steering Committee developed a set of recommendations around transparency, engagement, and investment for employers to adopt and implement, each doing their part to reach the 2030 goal.

Inclusive growth is an economic and moral imperative that is permeating sophisticated economic development organizations nationwide. During 2019, EDC will continue to work with its steering committee to set regional targets and employer-focused recommendations around the other two inclusive growth goals: small business competitiveness and affordability.

Setting out to solve the region’s complex challenges is easier said than done. There is no a one-size-fits-all solution, but one thing is clear: the future of San Diego’s growth and success will largely depend on collaboration between key partners from companies, universities, philanthropy, and local government to to ensure inclusive practices are integrated into future decision-making. And if there is any region that can come together to build an economy that reaches and includes all of its residents and employers, it’s San Diego.

To learn more about this effort, visit www.inclusiveSD.org.


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