Key Industries Continue to Thrive in Carlsbad

February 28, 2022

Carlsbad’s innovation economy is thriving despite the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the coastal city’s business-friendly environment, top talent and balanced quality of life.

According to the 2022 Carlsbad Business Report, which was released in January, although most surveyed businesses indicated that COVID-19 impacted their business to some extent, most said they have either already fully recovered from the pandemic or expect to fully recover in the next few months.

Furthermore, Carlsbad employers are optimistic about job growth over the next 12 months. In fact, roughly 40% of surveyed businesses indicated that they expect to add more workers to their labor force over the next year, according to the report.

Several industries drive Carlsbad’s innovation economy and account for a high concentration of well-paying and resilient jobs. These include Life Sciences; Information, Communications and Technologies; Cleantech; and Sports Innovation & Design. Additionally, Hospitality & Tourism remains a robust industry in Carlsbad with 42 hotels, Legoland and a number of other destinations employing more workers than any other industry in the city.

Life Sciences

Life Sciences includes the research, design and production of medical devices, as well as the research and development related to biological technologies and the manufacturing of medicinal and diagnostic substances.

The Life Sciences industry cluster employs 6,657 workers across 134 businesses and experienced a 2.6% increase in employment between 2018 and 2020, according to the 2022 Carlsbad Business Report. The cluster is 5.51 times more concentrated in Carlsbad than the national average.

Tyra Biosciences is one of the Carlsbad life sciences companies that has grown, even reaching a major milestone, amid the pandemic. The biotechnology company is developing treatments to fight acquired resistance in oncology, which makes targeted cancer treatments stop working. In September 2021, Tyra raised $199 million and went public.

Tyra now trades shares on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol TYRA.

Tyra was co-founded by COO Daniel Bensen and CEO Todd Harris, who live next door to each other in Carlsbad. They agreed that the city is both a great place to live and a great place to do business.

“There is a ton of biotech talent here in Carlsbad that’s been drawn here over many years due to San Diego’s strength as a biotech hub,” Harris said.

Bensen echoed Harris’ comments, adding, “The people and talent are here, why don’t we co-locate and save everyone the stress of the commute?”

Information, Communications and Technologies

Information, Communications and Technologies (ICT) includes cyber security, software and video game design, satellite communication, electronic device development, radio and wireless communication, and robotics.

As an industry, ICT is the second-largest employer of the city’s key industry clusters, with 9,008 workers across 343 businesses, according to the report. The industry is 2.75 times more concentrated in the city than the national average. Despite the pandemic, Carlsbad’s ICT industry cluster experienced a 3.3% increase in the number of jobs between 2018 and 2020.

Hardware startup company GigalO is one of the many tech companies based in Carlsbad. The company was listed among The Tech Tribune’s list of the best tech startups in Carlsbad for 2021.

“There is world-class communication expertise in both San Diego and Orange Counties, with many of the pioneering companies founded here,” said Jacqueline Arsivaud, GigaIO’s director of marketing.

“The City of Carlsbad has done a good job in land-use planning to select areas for office buildings that are attractive to businesses, well laid out, and close to the amenities like restaurants and hotels that support a busy tech hub,” Arsivaud added. “Many tech workers live in North County Coastal communities because of the quality of life and appreciate short commutes to work.”


Cleantech includes businesses that are engaged in renewable energy, electric motors, green transportation, green chemistry, greywater, lighting and other appliances that are now more energy efficient.

The number of workers employed at Cleantech businesses in Carlsbad increased by 22.2% between 2018 and 2020, according to the report. By 2019, the 48 businesses employed more than 872 people. The Cleantech industry cluster in Carlsbad is 4.66 times more concentrated than the national average.

The city’s commitment to sustainability has attracted Cleantech companies like Amai, which produces compostable and edible cups.

Amai’s edible cups come with a 100% recyclable paper sleeve, custom printed with vegetable dye, which provides safe and sanitary handling.

 Amai founder Jeannine Davison said the city’s open spaces, coastal appreciation and welcoming startup environment prompted her to import the novel product from Europe to the U.S.

“We were impressed to learn that Carlsbad was ranked No. 7 on the list of the most sustainable cities in the 2019 U.S. Cities Sustainable Development Report,” Davison said. “The support and networking opportunities we’ve experienced from the city and Chamber are second to none. These things, combined with a close-knit community, creates an excellent work-life balance.”

Sports Innovation & Design

Sports Innovation & Design includes businesses that are engaged in the design, production and sale of golf clubs, surfboards, diving equipment and other recreational goods, as well as apparel and accessories that are closely tied to these products.

The Sports Innovation & Design industry cluster employs 1,804 workers across 116 businesses, according to the report. The cluster is 5.06 times more concentrated in Carlsbad than the national average.

Upper Deck, the leading company behind trading cards, has been headquartered in Carlsbad for 30 years. The company’s location has been key to continued success, according to Jadon Masherah, president of Upper Deck.

He said the community continues to be supportive, serving as an “incubator for innovative companies.”

Location has also been key to the success of Carlsbad-based Blast Motion, according to CEO Michael Fitzpatrick. The sports technology company offers motion analysis and performance insights for baseball, softball and golf.

“Thanks to the wonderful weather in Carlsbad, sports can be played year-round, and athletes are very active,” Fitzpatrick said.

“We’re fortunate enough to work in a place where the sun shines virtually every day, that is super close to the ocean, and that’s far enough away from big-city life while still getting the benefits of being in a metro area,” he added. “Carlsbad is a great place to work and raise a family. All of these factors, and many more, are very important for our success.”

Employees stand outside the Blast Motion office.

Hospitality & Tourism

Hospitality & Tourism includes hotels, restaurants and transportation services, as well as entertainment attractions such as theme parks, golf courses and country clubs.

Of Carlsbad’s key industry clusters, the largest employer is Hospitality & Tourism, with 9,179 workers across 467 businesses, according to the report. The cluster is about 1.35 more concentrated in Carlsbad than the national average. 

Annual wages per worker remain low relative to other key industry clusters, with workers earning $31,315 on average.

“The City of Carlsbad takes pride in its thriving innovative companies that span a variety of industry clusters,” said Matt Sanford, Economic Development Manager for the City of Carlsbad.

“Together with Hospitality & Tourism, these industries are the reason our economy has fared relatively well despite the challenges of the past few years. Carlsbad’s support for the business community, rewarding career opportunities and enriching work-life balance draws both employers and talent to the city and we are proud of that.”