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San Diego: A Great Climate for Business

San Diego: A Great Climate for Business


Top industry leaders share why they choose San Diego for their companies


April 2, 2015



San Diego Regional EDC’s Mark Cafferty questioned several top, local industry leaders at aNAIOP San Diego breakfast event at the Marriott San Diego Del Mar this week about why San Diego is a good fit for their companies. Their consensus about San Diego’s great climate wasn’t limited to just the weather.

“San Diego doesn’t just have a great climate weather-wise; the city has a collaborative climate,” said West Health chief medical officer Joe Smith. He cited the “judgement-free zone” in San Diego and said that people are helpful rather than jealous of success.

VAVi CEO Steve Stoloff is a fan of the meteorological climate, saying, “We have a 365-day-a-year test kitchen in San Diego.” As a sport and social club, VAVi values not having to wait for good weather to hold outdoor events in San Diego, and Stoloff added that this gives San Diego a big advantage when trying to grab a piece of the $600 billion active outdoor lifestyle industry.

Cafferty noted that although some large companies have made headlines by moving from San Diego to Texas, much of their talent base chose to remain in San Diego, and General Atomics vice chair Linden Blue pointed out that his firm has maintained a 60-year legacy in San Diego.

When Cafferty asked the panelists why San Diego remains a second-tier venture capital market, Stoloff responded, “We’re not such a tech-savvy industry - we’re all about bootstrapping.”

Smith sees the healthcare and life science industries as having great potential to grow San Diego’s economy. “In Minnesota, someone made a pacemaker in his garage, spurring the start of hundreds of startups,” he said. “We need to continue creating this culture here. Here, we have this rise in opportunity.”

With an audience full of commercial real estate professionals, the panelists addressed another question on everyone’s minds: What kind of spaces do San Diego’s companies want to work in?

“You’re seeing a shift to playful, light and bright spaces, and not just for entertainment,” said iBoss CEO Paul Martini, whose firm is creating a new headquarters space with slides traversing it. “We’re trying to make our company attractive to all of the talented engineers and Ph.Ds graduating from local universities.”

When it comes to building for San Diego’s healthcare industry, Smith thinks the care experience should be transformed. “We’re going to have to redesign hospitals – cathedrals of care - which are physician-centric,” he said. “We have to disseminate healthcare and build spaces that do this.”

Stoloff’s firm has taken a uniquely San Diego approach to transforming their work space experience. “We ran out of space but realized that space became more about not scheduling meetings at lunch or after hours. If you give employees personal time to take advantage of the outdoor environment and be close to activities like surfing and running, that’s the number one priority.”


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