OCEANSIDE — Over 325 business and community leaders gathered on Dec. 14 at The Seabird Resort to honor the North County companies, developments and projects that made significant impacts to the region.
Each year, the San Diego North Economic Development Council (SDNEDC) solicits nominations for entities that help create a more economically competitive region by opening or relocating a business to North County, launching new policies, activities or programs in North County, and making significant expansions, new developments or new investments as an existing North County business.
Award winners include:
- Kaiser Permanente for opening the new San Marcos Medical Center
- Project Next (formerly San Marcos Promise) for its new program, Xcelerate
- The city of Escondido and Fresh Brewed Tech for their AgTech Hackathon
- Genentech for their Oceanside single-use technology project
- Argonaut for its five-facility expansion in Carlsbad
- M2 Ingredients for its $20 million facility construction in Vista
- Gary Levitt, founder of Sea Breeze Properties, as the 2023 North County Steward.
In August, Kaiser Permanente officially opened its San Marcos Medical Center to patients, generating over 1,000 new jobs. The new hospital earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council as the third hospital in California to attain this status.
Notably, the hospital also houses a state-of-the-art labor and delivery department and a neonatal intensive care unit, addressing a critical need in the region as other healthcare facilities are suspending or merging their labor and delivery services.
Project Next’s newest program, Xcelerate, fills a gap for students who struggle academically yet excel in other areas. It offers students assistance with finding a job, creating a resume and practicing pre-employment skills.
College enrollment data shows 20 to 30% of high school graduates go straight into the workforce. Xcelerate prepares them to do so properly and professionally, according to SDNEDC.
“Project Next is the most creative, innovative and professional program I work with,” said Karen Thompson, a special education coordinator in the San Marcos Unified School District.
The AgTech Hackathon is a collaboration between Fresh Brewed Tech and the City of Escondido with the primary goal of fostering innovation and promoting economic development within the agriculture and technology sectors.
First held in late 2022, the event brings together entrepreneurs, technologists, farmers, economic developers and other stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to address local agriculture challenges in a post-COVID-19 world.
The original incubator concept helped create partnership memorandums of understandings crafted between University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources and California State University of San Marcos. Winning companies for the event are entitled to cash and in-kind prizes, including incubation at the new Aquillius BioTech Incubator.
Genentech pioneered the processes and technologies used to manufacture complex biological medicines. After more than four decades of manufacturing innovation, they remain dedicated to North County as their Oceanside single-use technology project brings over 150 permanent full-time jobs and countless construction jobs in its structural period.
This cutting-edge facility will further solidify North County as a home for biotech and pharma, according to the council.
Beginning its journey with a single facility in 2016, Argonaut experienced rapid growth, expanding its footprint to five state-of-the-art facilities in Carlsbad. Growing at an additional rate of 20% during 2023, Argonaut anticipates an ambitious forecast – tripling their revenue in the next five years – and is on track to employ up to 300 individuals.
“As a native Californian, I have to say North County is still a place with a manufacturing heart,” said Wayne Woodard, president and CEO of Argonaut. “It is leading in the manufacturing space.”
As they continue to expand, they attract other businesses and investors to the region. According to the council, this fosters a “collaborative business ecosystem and promoting North County as a hub for innovation, manufacturing and prosperity.”
“Argonaut is the embodiment of a Carlsbad success story,” said Carlsbad Economic Development Manager Matt Sanford. “They have long been a keystone of Carlsbad’s life sciences community.”
M2 Ingredients is the owner of the Om Mushrooms brand of mushroom powder and supplements found in health food stores and warehouse retailers across the country.
After 15 years, M2 Ingredients made the strategic decision to consolidate all their operations into one facility in Vista. Once constructed, the $20 million facility will be the largest mushroom powder producer in the US, employing over 120 people.
Their Vista expansion project helps the community by growing the North County food science industry cluster, provides career opportunities for North County residents and equips M2 to retain a leadership role in the mushroom powder industry.
“Thank you, North County. You have been an amazing place to start a business,” said Sandra Carter, founder of M2 Ingredients.
Each year, SDNEDC names an individual as a “North County steward” who has worked to improve the community for residents.
Through his company, Seabreeze Properties, Gary Levitt created ‘North City,’ a 200-acre urban village in the center of San Marcos that serves as a catalyst for growth and economic expansion in the region. More recently, Gary has been selected to redesign the Carlsbad Village Transit Center.
SDNEDC is a multi-jurisdictional economic development organization that markets economic development opportunities, amplifies positive news about the business ecosystem, helps existing employers grow and connects educators and employers to strengthen workforce development efforts.