Escondido, CA

Five cities along Hwy 78 unite to promote job creation with Innovate78

Last week the mayors of the five cities that straddle Hwy 78 gathered at Cal State San Marcos to announce the Innovate78 initiative to fuel job creation along that highway corridor that stretches from Escondido to the coast.

The mayors of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista April 7 announced the launch of “a branding and economic development initiative that will collectively promote the 78 Corridor as a magnet for talent, companies and investment.”

Attending the announcement were about 130 business owners and members of the community.

The mayors also unveiled a new Website,, that will serve as a resource for the cities to attract and retain companies, as well as for companies to attract and retain a skilled workforce.

They noted that the corridor is the home of more than 600,000 residents and 200,000 businesses, many the companies innovative and leading edge from tech startups to life sciences and communications.

In Escondido Mayor Sam Abed’s weekly message he wrote “In an effort to better position the cities along San Diego’s 78 Corridor for prosperity and innovation, the five North County cities – Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista – have launched Innovate78, a new branding initiative and website ( ) to spur economic development. From biotech to sports innovation and beer, Innovate78 is a place where innovation and lifestyle collide.”

According to Mayor Matt Hall of Carlsbad, “North County is not only a great place to live, but also a great place to build a company and work. Through this collaboration, Innovate78 is about showing the rest of the world what North County is all about.”

Each city will have its own plan for achieving the shared goal. Mayor Jim Wood of Oceanside declared, “We see the benefits in collectively promoting the 78 Corridor cities. For the past two years, we’ve collaborated side-by-side to ensure that we’re recruiting and retaining businesses together. This Website will ensure that we’re sending the right message to businesses and employers about the 78 Corridor.”

The Website will have interactive features such as testimonials from companies, resources for building a business, a job portal, content about educational institutions and opportunities and information about living and getting around on the 78 Corridor.

It will also highlights attractions, educational institutions and prominent industries, such as life sciences, craft beer (specialty food & beverages), and manufacturing. A map detailing innovative employers, attractions and interest points along the 78 Corridor will be rolled out next month.

Jim Desmond, Mayor of San Marcos said,“Innovate78 serves as a tool to promote job creation along the Corridor. The business of economic development is changing. If we want to be effective, the goal is not to poach jobs from other regions, but to create jobs and explain why building a business along the 78 Corridor matters. Promoting the culture of North County – particularly for the younger, millennial demographic – is also an essential part of our marketing strategy.”

One example of the way that the cities are already collaborating is how they helped a local business, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, relocate. The company was headquartered in Escondido, but had recently announced that it had outgrown its warehouse.

Working together, the cities were able to move the innovative company to a 130,000-square foot facility in Vista, keeping them along the corridor, where they were able to retain employees.

“We have always been a collaborative city, but working with Escondido on the Dr. Bronner’s expansion showed us the true benefit of this partnership. Employees of Dr. Bronner’s contribute to the economy of all five North County cities. Because of the Innovate78 initiative, we will see more collaboration like this in our future,“ said Judy Ritter, Mayor of Vista.

In December the five cities pulled together a roundtable with leaders from the diagnostics industry, a growing and diverse industry along the 78 Corridor. Based on that conversation, UC San Diego Extension, a major driver of industry talent, was able to adapt its model for training clinical laboratory scientists to better meet the needs of the diagnostics industry in the region, as well as the for the region’s health systems.

“Innovate78 is by no means the end of the effort for the five cities. It marks the beginning of a new partnership and a new way of thinking about regional economic growth. Anchored by a comprehensive economic development strategy, the cities will use the brand as a vehicle for growth”, said Abed. “It’s just the beginning.”

Businesses are encouraged to leverage, and link to, the website to help attract employees and promote their North County location. For more information about the initiative, email Matt Sanford at San Diego Regional EDC at

The five cities began working two years ago to develop a brand to collectively maximize business retention, expansion and recruitment along the 78 Corridor, resulting in further job creation.

There is no real timeline on the project. Organizers say the long-term idea is to focus on job growth, luring new businesses, and communication between the cities.

Escondido City Council member John Masson told the Times Advocate that he is excited about the new initiative. “I think working together to create jobs and economic prosperity in our region is a great idea, so I’m really excited about our regional collaboration.”

He added, “Working together we not only have a stronger voice, but we’re able to leverage assets and unique attributes from each city and when you put them all together in one package is pretty easy to see that the 78 Corridor is the place to live, work and play. Innovate 78 is the brand that ties us all together and enables us to market the 78 Corridor to companies worldwide.”

Escondido Chamber of Commerce CEO Rorie Johnston commented, “North County has a diverse portfolio of resources and is rich with culture. Each city has a unique identity, making it an ideal location for a variety of industries. The collaboration of the North County Mayors, Council, City Eco- nomic Development professionals and chambers are the supporting factors to entice and retain businesses in this region. By working together as a cohesive community vs. individual cities, knowledge of resources and strengths are shared, thus increasing business development opportunities.”

Johnston added, “I believe this quote, taken from the Innovate 78 sums up the project quite well: ‘The 78 Corridor is a hub for innovation. From Oceanside to Escondido, the 78 Corridor has an ecosystem rich with companies and a talented workforce to take any concept from design to production. Coupled with an unparalleled climate, endless opportunity to live an active lifestyle, and a unique culture of craft beer, arts, family, and recreation, you will find an ideal place to grow your career, your family, and yourself.”

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