The East County Economic Development Council (ECEDC) is a nonprofit working to expand existing businesses and promote new economic opportunities to create a prosperous economic environment through innovative projects, purpose-driven collaboration and assertive promotion. We spoke with their communications manager, Angela Nagel, who told us about how the ECEDC is a champion for business growth and workforce development.
How is ECEDC impacting the community?
The ECEDC functions very similarly to a community-focused management consulting agency. Our partners often engage with us to solve specific business and management problems that they’re having difficulty solving themselves, versus the sort of philanthropic work traditionally done by nonprofits. Fortunately, our role in the community affords us a broad network and we’re able to leverage these partnerships to bring people together to solve our region’s most pressing challenges.
On a more tactical level, this means that our EDC operates like an umbrella organization with dozens of diverse projects underneath. Over this past year, we’ve issued millions of dollars in COVID-relief grants, helped the State create cybersecurity training resources for small businesses, mapped supply chains for the Department of Defense and trained more than 2,000 entrepreneurs as part of our Small Business Development Center Network.
Within the workforce context, our Skilled Workforce Committee has more than 100 members, with representatives from education, government and business. That committee hosts numerous conversations/panels between job seekers, engages employers around their training and workforce needs and helps the broader student population identify the entry points and alternatives within various career pathways.
Any partnership highlights you’d like to share?
We have so many wonderful, impactful partners in the workforce space, but I can highlight a few:
Dr. Lynn Neault, Dr. Javier Ayala and their team at the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District have been such huge champions of workforce training and career technical education. For decades, they’ve been ready collaborators, working with us to engage employers and craft training systems that furnish some of the most well-prepared employees in the region.
The San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network has been so crucial to much of our work. They brought us into the SBDC family in 2019 and we’ve been able to help start hundreds of businesses in East County, create thousands of jobs and provide training to thousands of our local entrepreneurs. During the pandemic, Danny Fitzgerald and the SBDC team were integral to the distribution of the COVID relief funds that saved many of our small businesses and the services we’re able to provide have helped immeasurably in East County’s ability to recover. For those within our region who hear “get a job” and think “I should start my own company,” the SBDC has been indispensable.
I’d also like to highlight the Grossmont Healthcare District. As many are aware, the healthcare industry is going through multiple permutations and evolutions and we’re still grappling with the effects that COVID has had on our healthcare workforce. The Grossmont Healthcare District, in recognizing some of the industry’s looming talent shortages, recently engaged the EDC and tasked us with building a talent pipeline that mobilizes job seekers towards obvious entry points, coordinates training resources and providers, and employs them in the service of the businesses that need them. So far, we’ve inventoried all the healthcare training resources in San Diego County and connected with more than a dozen East County healthcare employers.
Why is workforce development important to your organization’s mission?
The ECEDC’s mission is to cultivate a vibrant, sustainable economy. Our region is a net exporter of talent, meaning that many of the residents of East County travel to other parts of San Diego to find employment. In the short term, investing in our workforce is how we create a citizenry that can get great jobs and use those earnings to reinvest in our communities. Long term, we hope to continue building those jobs in East County and we believe that having a robust, trained workforce makes that value proposition more compelling and attainable.
How can San Diegans get involved?
Though workforce is only a piece of the work we do, it is an important one. We’re constantly engaged in active problem-solving with our education, industry and government partners. If you’d like to be part of those conversations, you can reach out at eastcountyedc.org/membership/.