“We’ve worked hard to spread the word about economic development because it’s still relatively new territory for San Marcos,” said Economic Development Manager Tess Sangster, who has led the division since in launched in 2015.
In fact, economic development was named a top priority in 2015, spurred largely by an increasingly competitive business landscape. And the city’s charter–a voter-approved guiding document–says staff should embrace a business-like mentality and find ways to boost revenue, which certainly applies to economic development.
“Our businesses are a critical piece of our local economy, supplying more than 40,000 jobs here in San Marcos,” Sangster said. “When we empower our businesses to succeed, the entire community benefits.”
Working under the City’s newly minted brand and tagline, “Discover San Marcos,” city staff invited the public to learn more about its economic development division, which is gaining steam as the City’s surrounding business community grows.
“Our business inventory has grown by 25 percent in the past decade alone, and we expect that growth to continue,” Sangster said. “That’s partly why we’re committed to proactive economic development and this award speaks to that.”
During CALED’s annual conference in Monterrey, CA, Sangster formally accepted the award, which is the City’s first economic development honor.
“This is a great starting point for us,” Sangster said. “We contribute a $7.9 billion annual GDP to the regional economy. And as North County’s education hub, we also produce 10 percent of the region’s total academic program completions. This recognition rightfully puts San Marcos on the map.”
The industry is the city’s second-largest economic sector
San Marcos is home to a bustling manufacturing industry, and though most of us never actually see it, recent findings reveal just how much business is booming in the city’s industrial parks.
Manufacturing is the city’s second-largest economic sector, accounting for nearly 7 percent of local gross domestic product (GDP), or about $5M annually—and providing 11 percent of the city’s employment, which is about 4,300 jobs, according toresearch by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (San Diego Regional EDC).
What’s more, the median income for manufacturing jobs in San Marcos is about $70,000, which is nearly $15,000 higher than the rest of the region, state and nation. That’s thanks to a cluster of high-tech companies that make medical devices and information technology instruments.
“San Marcos is fortunate to have a manufacturing industry that attracts top talent and is a major contributor to our city’s economy,” said Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill.
Of course, this begs the question: What has attracted these manufacturers to San Marcos? And what is keeping them here?
The answer largely boils down to ample industrial space, and increasingly, a more collaborative relationship with the growing city.
For example, Hunter Industries, a global leader in irrigation, was launched in San Marcos 36 years ago and is now the city’s largest private employer. As the company has expanded, the city has been able to accommodate its headquarters, which now spans 20 acres and 11 buildings.
“We don’t have to pick up and move miles away as we grow,” explained Scotty Lombardi, Hunter Industries Senior Manager of Global Talent Management. “In fact, we’re about to break ground on another empty lot in our business park.”
The company also has 1 billion square-feet of manufacturing space across the world, but it’s managed to keep about 30 percent here in San Marcos. But beyond space, Lombardi says Hunter Industries has appreciated more outreach from the city in recent years.
“We are now much more aware of what’s happening in the city around us,” he said. “San Marcos has made it clear they’re a business partner and that makes us want to stay.”
That mix of industrial inventory and a business-friendly government is not only keeping longstanding companies put but is also attracting new manufacturers—particularly in the rising wave of craft beer and spirits.
The city already has nearly a dozen distilleries and breweries, which will soon include Raging Cider & Mead Co, slated to open next month.
“San Marcos is a great location for us because it has breweries, taphouses and pubs that cater to a public looking for new experiences in the world of craft beverages,” said David Carr, President of Raging Cider & Mead Co.
And though this venture is part of an emerging scene, Carr himself is no stranger to the San Marcos manufacturing industry. In fact, for the past 17 years San Marcos has been home to his other manufacturing company, Crown Steel, which specializes in custom stainless steel fabrication and restaurant equipment.
Carr now plans to run both manufacturing companies out of his 20,000 square-foot industrial space. As a longtime local entrepreneur, Carr says working with other manufacturers is one of the things he enjoys most about being in San Marcos.
“We have discovered many other manufacturers in San Marcos who either provide services we need or have use of services we offer, and that’s been very good for our business,” he said.
Collectively, all that manufacturing activity in San Marcos is helping the San Diego region keep its footing as an industry hub, which includes more than 3,000 companies supporting more than 105,000 jobs, according the to San Diego Regional EDC.
In that vein, the upcoming Manufacturing Day, a national series of events that aims to celebrate the industry, is slated for the first week of October and locally, there in an event that will include San Marcos.
From tax-credit education to an easier permitting process, the city is striving to do business better
When it comes to economic development, the City of San Marcos is raising the bar and local businesses are taking note—like Cliniqa, a bio-techne company that just went through an expansion.
“What can be a lengthy permit process was made easier by the wonderful employees in the Planning, Fire and Building departments,” said Lisa Profeta, Facilities Manager at Cliniqa in San Marcos.
The city has always embraced entrepreneurship because it drives a high quality of life—but it took center stage in 2012 when the State ended redevelopment programming, which took a toll on local business growth. Coupled with the recession, San Marcos saw a need to be more proactive in its economic development.
“City Council quickly realized we needed to focus our energy there if we wanted to remain a thriving, leading city,” said City Manager Jack Griffin. “Given that, City Council created a vision for a more business-friendly San Marcos.”
That vision began to take shape in 2015, when the city’s first economic development division was created. Since then, significant progress has been made, including the hire of an economic development manager and the launch of the San Marcos Business Walk Program, a twice-a-year event where volunteers collect feedback about the challenges facing local commerce.
Staff has also worked to cut a lot of red tape from the development approval process—everything from making it easier to navigate the land entitlement process, to bolstering city and private sector collaboration on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document preparation, to a City of San Marcos and Building Industry Association (BIA) pilot project that is under development to allow for digital submission of project plans to save money on construction document printing costs, which can run $20,000 to $70,000 per on a typical subdivision during the entirety of the development approval process.”
“The city Development Services team, particularly Planning staff, are constantly working with the city’s Economic Development Manager to understand the needs of existing and prospective businesses,” said Director of Development Services Dahvia Lynch. “Planning and Economic Development go hand in hand and our collaboration is crucial to our improvements, which are a work in progress.”
In fact, staff still sees plenty of room for improvements. For example, they are working to give business owners more opportunities to save time or money by streamlining and more clearly defining permitting process. There are also plans to standardize more reference materials for the permitting process, and to make more resources available online for business owners.
“Ideally, we would love to empower more business owners with the knowledge and resources they need,” Lynch said.
In that vein, city staff has also started to educate business owners about any benefits that they may qualify for. For example, Wholesale Shade was awarded a $500,000 California Competes Tax Credit, which Founder and CEO Patrick Howe learned about through the bi-monthly Council Business Visits. As part of the credit, the company intends to create 26 jobs over the next five years.
Likewise, the Council Business Visits, also led Cliniqa to apply, resulting in a $350,000 California Competes Tax Credit, with which the company plans to use to create 24 jobs over the next five years. Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation worked closely with the two companies—along with other San Marcos businesses that hope to receive the credit in the future—to simplify the application process.
“Most business owners I know are focused on the daily challenges of keeping their doors open and are not experts at regulations or government programs,” Howe explained. “Knowing that the City of San Marcos is a partner in the success of our business is reassuring.”
Radmill says that’s precisely how she hopes the business community views the city: a partner in their success.
“We’re working to ensure our local businesses are empowered to reach their full potential because their success is part of what drives the high quality of life we all enjoy here in San Marcos.”
To learn more about the city’s economic development efforts, contact Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill at email@example.com.
Here is an interview with Kristal Jabara candidate for San Marcos City Council. San Elijo Life has invited all candidates for council the answer the same set of questions.
Why should the residents in San Elijo Hills vote for you?
My family moved to San Elijo Hills three years ago, because we enjoyed the community feel, the central location, and all of the amenities this area provided. Previous to that time I had lived in other areas of San Marcos and truly came to love the city of San Marcos. As a Planning Commissioner, I am working to replace the city’s outdated plan for homes, shopping, and businesses with an updated plan that uses community oriented planning. As the President of the San Marcos Economic Development Corporation, I have been working to attract new businesses that bring jobs to our city. As a wife and mother, I am working to create a vibrant city and will continue expanding parks and other recreational opportunities that we enjoy. On City Council, I will continue working to create an attractive city with a high quality of life that will attract new companies that create local jobs for San Marcos.
How can the council help address aggressive cut through traffic and school traffic in San Elijo Hills?
Traffic and safety are top priorities for me and I believe public safety is at the center of a thriving city. Aggressive cut through, as well as, local traffic will be an issue that we will have to constantly monitor. I believe the best deterrent of unsafe driving is increased traffic patrols, continual placement of speed reminders, and utilizing the city’s traffic demand center. The city has a state-of-the-art traffic center where they can monitor and change traffic patterns through light synchronization. The majority of funding for this was and is grant money. I would like to continue utilizing the latest technology to assist the cities traffic department. We who live in San Elijo Hills must also remember to watch our driving especially during school hours. Residents and city officials need to have constant communication with law enforcement to stay on top traffic patrols. As the community and schools grow we have to invest time and money in traffic flow analysis for our schools. The plan that was created when the school was opened won’t necessarily be the best plan for the future. The people who live in this community are it’s most valuable resource for solving problems, so encouraging citizens to join the traffic commission or at least attending meetings to inform the city what seems to be working or not working. The Deputy Sheriff Association has endorsed me because safety is my top priority.
What is your position on Proposition K?
I am fully in support and have been campaigning for Proposition K. Our schools and children are our number one resource and they deserve to have the best. Test scores continue to rise in San Marcos, our students, schools, and parents are working hard to create a positive learning environment for our students; safe, well functioning schools are a must. Beyond the improvement of schools for the student’s sake, quality schools raise property values and will attract new businesses to our city. Proposition K is an investment in our future.
How can the city of San Marcos work with San Elijo Development to complete the San Elijo Hills Town Center?
I don’t believe any of us anticipated the down turn in the economy to last so long. Because of this, the completion of development projects has been delayed longer than anyone would like to see, especially the developers. As residents we can first and foremost patronize our local retail and business establishments. Spending our money in our community will help keep businesses thriving and attract new business. We can also help keep our homes and neighborhoods beautiful; this will help keep property values up. We must also look at the entire city and keeping it thriving and healthy so we can retain all of the amenities we enjoy, such as the highest level of fire and safety, graffiti cleanup, maintained parks and community centers, and other vital services. We need to spend our tax dollars in San Marcos and not let other cities enjoy the benefits of our tax revenue. And, please, vote Yes on Proposition 22; tell the State to leave our redevelopment money in San Marcos and not use it to cover their budget deficits. If the city loses our RDA money they will not be able to assist in future projects that will improve our city.
What is your position on changes to the San Marcos general plan?
I am in-favor of updating the general plan. I have attended General Plan Update Committee workshops and meetings to share my ideas and find out what others want in the city. There are people from San Elijo Hills on the GPAC committee and they are working hard to help assist the city to create a new plan that will help us grow in a positive way. I was the public spokeswoman for the No On Proposition O campaign two years ago, I went door to door to fight a measure that would slash property values and stunt economic expansion in San Marcos. We defeated proposition O, but unless we update our General Plan we will continually be faced with propositions that attempt ballot-box-planning, limit expansion, and be detrimental to our quality of life.
What is your position on future housing and commercial development around San Elijo Hills (Creekside District, and university area projects, recycling plant, Quathaven and Attebury road area)?
I have been in support of both the Creekside and University District development projects. Both projects include new homes, upscale shops, office space, live/work condos, and entertainment. These projects will help bring construction and long-term employment to our city. As a Planning Commission, I take a very serious look at every project that comes before me. I evaluate every detail and only approve the ones that have a positive impact on the entire city. Traffic, infrastructure, and quality of life are important when considering any new project. I believe in community forums and workshops so neighbor can have input prior to any plans being approved. On City Council, I would have this same approach for any new projects being proposed.
What are your goals to improve the quality of life in San Marcos, such as events, parks, and trails?
First, we must be able to fund and sustain the projects or events that we consider to improve or maintain our quality of life. We must continue to grow and preserve our reserve account, grow revenue, decrease unnecessary spending, and maintain a balanced budget to keep our city thriving. Parks and trails have always been a priority, just last year I voted to approve the new South Lake Park that will link even more trails. San Marcos has many events that are growing in popularity, but we are still searching for a signature event. I believe this can’t be forced and as our city grows we will explore many different possibilities that bring entertainment, cultural interests, and community involvement to our city. We have such a diverse population and many quality educational facilities which will help us grow ideas that will keep San Marcos a thriving, world class city. In the Civic Center Plaza where Pizza Nova is located there was a film festival held for the first time this year, events such as these will continue to grow in popularity and will be springboards to other ideas and events. On City Council, I would welcome ideas and input from citizens about what they think would be unique events or ideas for San Marcos.
Would you care to comment on the recent excessive compensation concerns for San Marcos city staff?
Unfortunately it is hard to capture all of the information regarding city budgets, compensation plans, and employee contracts in one short newspaper article or story. While serving on the City Budget Review Committee I realized the complexity of a city’s budget. The City of San Marcos has done a great job attracting and retaining quality employees that hold multiple positions. With this plan they have been able to keep staffing to a minimum and costs down. What needs to be looked at and decided is if the current contracts are sustainable without raising taxes, cutting services, or negatively impacting the taxpayers. I am committed to fiscal discipline in government employee compensation and pension decisions. On council, I will work to create an efficient government that works for the people, provides the highest level of customer service and treats residents like valued customers. I will fight for balanced budgets and will do what is right for taxpayers.
If elected what are the top 3 issues you would focus on for San Elijo Hills?
I truly believe we need to look at the entire city and keeping it healthy and moving in a positive direction. San Elijo Hills is a wonderful community that has so much to offer. We need to have a solid plan for the future. We must find ways to attract new businesses that bring quality jobs to our city. We must make sure we are preserving and improving our quality of life by controlling traffic and providing vital services to every part of our city. And finally, safety must be a top priority. I support anti-gang efforts, graffiti cleanup, personal safety programs, and community policing. Making sure our streets are safe and our neighborhoods secure would be a top priority while on City Council.
How will you clean up the campaign signs after election? will they be recycled?
Campaign signs are always an issue every election year. It is a necessary part of name recognition, but it has a tendency to go over board. I have chosen to have strategically placed large signs throughout the city instead of small yard signs blanketing every inch. While these larger signs cost more, are difficult to hang and take down, and are harder to store I believe they leave a better impression. I am constantly trying to police my signs to make sure they are not falling over or littering the streets. With-in twenty-four hours after the election you will see signs being taken down and everyone will breath a sigh of relief, I am sure. Most people store their signs and the items used with them for future elections and that is what I will be doing with mine. Signs that have multiple candidates listed on them will most likely be recycled when possible. Signs are an exercise in patience for all of us and I appreciate the fact that most people understand why they are necessary.
Editors note all San Marcos candidates are welcome to contact us to conduct an interview.