Two years ago, the five cities located along the Highway 78 corridor - Oceanside, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Vista - launched Innovate78. Innovate 78 is an economic initiative designed to increase prosperity through collaboration. Under Innovate 78, the five cities pledged to work together to attract and retain business and to not undermine each other’s economic interests.
Innovate 78 grew from the realization that the five cities along the 78 Corridor have much in common and can benefit by collaborating to promote common business interests, whereas competing against each other could drive businesses, jobs and investment dollars away.
In June 2014, the five cities signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the San Diego Economic Development Corp., SDEDC, to help promote the 78 Corridor and attract new businesses. Matthew Sanford, Director of Economic Development for SDEDC, is tasked with working with business to bring investment to the 78 Corridor. The A website was established to promote the five city effort at www.Innovate78.com, and contains information on the region’s industries, workforce and residents.
Sanford stated “Innovate78 is a unique collaborative effort between the five North County cities along the 78 Corridor. I have worked successfully with the five cities for about two years on this visionary effort which has been quite successful in supporting business expansion and business retention.”
More than 100 companies have been assisted by Innovate 78 over the past two years, including expansion, retention and attraction. Sanford is in regular contact with firms based in the Corridor that are seeking to expand, as well as with firms outside the region and State that are seeking to move to a new location.
Over the past year, Innovate78 has accomplished some major milestones, including:
- Hosting three industry roundtables, in diagnostics, manufacturing, and information and communications technology (ICT), to highlight the 78 Corridor’s diverse economy, identify challenges and accelerate industry growth. The roundtables involved industry experts, academic institutions and city economic developers to educate participants on ways to capitalize on the region’s strengths, which include quality of life, quality of talent, and proximity to San Diego, Orange County and Baja California.
- Launching a data dashboard that quantifies the economic health and demography of the five cities along the Corridor. The dashboard uses 20 different metrics, such as educational attainment, cost of real estate, employment rates, and even the number of breweries in the five cities, to inform businesses and individuals about the opportunities available to those who live and work here.
- Promoting San Diego and regional businesses during a trip to Japan in early 2016. As San Diego County’s largest trade and investment market, Japan represents a key to the region’s economic growth. Innovate78 leaders pitched the Corridor’s talent pool, collaborative business climate and thriving industry clusters to attract investment and attention.
“Looking back over the past year and one-half, it’s clear the collaboration created by Innovate 78 has caused a dramatic change throughout the region, which has encouraged businesses, academic institutions and various industries to work together helping to strengthen the 78 Corridor economy,” Sanford said.
By working together regionally the 78 Corridor is establishing a new identity that stretches beyond the 78 Corridor bringing in new businesses and investment. Innovate 78 is an important catalyst in making that happen.