San Diego’s Innovation Economy, and What it Takes to Recruit “The Young and Restless”

(Page 2 of 3)

live where they can rely on their network of peers to find another job—and where technology clusters provide an abundance of jobs requiring similar knowledge and skills.

That means San Diego’s life sciences sector, with close to 600 biotech and medical device companies (not to mention scores of biomedical research centers), should continue to serve as a magnet for young biologists, chemists, and other life sciences workers. But San Diego’s struggling software sector, with its paucity of capital and disconnected islands of expertise, could be a different story.

“It’s fairly difficult to get something started when you don’t have the critical mass,” says Cortright. And unlike the lumber or steel industries, Cortright says, IT and communications workers can live just about anywhere.

Compounding the challenges for the software sector in San Diego are what Cortright calls his urbanist bullet points—the community characteristics and amenities that talented young and restless workers are looking for in a city these days. For example:

—Young, educated workers are increasingly shunning the suburbs to live closer to downtown, particularly in urban neighborhoods within a 3-mile radius of the urban core. They like neighborhoods that feature a mix of different types of housing and an interesting mix of local shops, restaurants, and bars.

—They are driving less and tend to view automobile ownership as costly and impractical. They increasingly prefer “walkable” and “bikable” neighborhoods with convenient mass transit options. (Housing affordability has become a key factor in this trend, Cortright says.)

—They look for neighborhoods with income, ethnic, and social diversity. They view diversity as a characteristic that makes a place more interesting.

Cortright says these emerging themes are supported by evidence from the census and other sources. For example:

—In 1980, young adults were about 10 percent more likely to … Next Page »

Single Page Currently on Page: 1 2 3 previous page

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

Trending on Xconomy