City Partnerships Grow EconomyNovember 10, 2015
Carlsbad’s economy continued to flourish in 2015 as many local businesses expanded, new firms moved to the city and a life sciences incubator launched new startups.
City of Carlsbad Economic Development Manager Christina Vincent told the City Council on Tuesday that one of the major achievements in 2015 was the expansion of MiraCosta College’s new Technology Career Institute, which opened a larger Carlsbad location in a city-owned building in March. The institute offers nine certificated programs that train students in skills needed in several growing industries in North San Diego County, such as high-tech manufacturing, maritime technology and biotech manufacturing. At the new location, the institute has already enrolled 435 students and issued 389 certificates in less than a year.
The city teamed with MiraCosta by leasing a 23,000-square-foot building on Las Palmas Drive to the college at a below-market rate, providing a low-cost home for the institute. Vincent said that many local businesses have told the city that they need skilled workers, and the Technology Career Institute helps fill that need in a short timeframe.
Vincent said that a main economic development focus for the city is retaining established businesses and creating a friendly business environment, and drawing trained professionals to help those businesses grow.
Another partnership that is proving successful is the city’s life sciences incubator, Bio, Tech and Beyond, which opened in a city-owned building in mid 2013. The incubator held its first life sciences Startup Showcase last month at Thermo Fisher, where it introduced nine startup firms that Bio, Tech and Beyond nurtured and helped develop.
The city is home more than 150 life sciences companies and regards the incubator as an investment that will pay dividends as new companies take root, grow and provide jobs for skilled workers. The city leases a 6,000-square-foot building on Faraday Avenue to the incubator for a term of five years, and there are two and a half years left on the contract.
The City of Carlsbad has also joined four neighboring cities in a collaboration called Innovate78. This is a branding and economic development initiative in which the five cities along the state Route 78 corridor — Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido — cooperate to retain and attract businesses, rather than work at cross purposes. Innovate78 was formally launched at a ceremony in April.
Matt Sanford, director of economic development for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Council and the project manager for Innovate78, told the Council that the five cities’ unified voice has helped retain companies that may otherwise have left the region, keeping investment dollars and jobs in the corridor. Sanford said that the San Diego Regional Economic Development Council will expand Innovate78’s reach in the coming year.
Vincent told the Council that Carlsbad’s economic indicators remain largely positive, as the city’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.2 percent and sales tax and transient occupancy tax revenues continue to grow. Office vacancy rates have remained steady as developers have added new space, indicating that as new buildings come on line, new and expanding businesses occupy those offices.
Vincent also said that several prominent firms have announced plans to expand or have recently expanded in Carlsbad, including Viasat, Nordson Asymtek, Carlsbad Technology, Chuao Chocolatier and Thermo Fisher. And other businesses, such as GoPro, have relocated to expand operations in Carlsbad. This indicates that businesses see Carlsbad as a good place to invest and reinvest, Vincent said.
“We want to make sure that businesses that have already chosen Carlsbad have the opportunity to thrive here,” Vincent said.