If your magical winter wonderland has turned into mounds of sludgy gray snow, you may be wondering how Bing Crosby could ever record a song asking for more winter weather.
You may have also started to question whether you have what it takes to spend one more winter shoveling sidewalks or spending ten minutes to bundle up just to walk outside. If you’re ready to give it up and head to a warmer climate, one city is ready to roll out the welcome mat for you.
The City of Carlsbad Economic Development Division in Southern California is taking advantage of one of their best assets – lifestyle – and turning it into a mantra for attracting new companies and talent to the area: Life in Action.
While the city of Carlsbad may be slightly less famous when it comes to vacation destinations than nearby neighbor, San Diego, they are top destination for surfers, skaters, and, of course, Lego-lovers who flock to the family theme park Legoland. Famed skater Tony Hawk, who was born in Carlsbad, also spearheaded development of the first skate park ever built in the U.S.
Carlsbad is also home to seven exquisite miles of shoreline and some of the most popular locations for surfers and campers.
But the city is far more than a tourist attraction.
Carlsbad is also a startup hub that has positioned itself to attract new companies and talent, and it seems to be working. Sixty-three startups were launched between 2014 and 2015 – an impressive number given that the city’s entire population is slightly above 112,000 people – making it similar in size to other U.S. cities like Cambridge, Massachusetts – a suburb of Boston, and Westminster, Colorado – a suburb of Denver, and Fargo, North Dakota.
Last spring, I had the chance to visit with other startup founders in the region, and I discovered a common thread among them – that it wasn’t necessary to sacrifice having a life to grow a business.
Some of the region’s better known companies have obvious ties to the outdoor lifestyle.
The headquarters of the outdoor lifestyle clothing company, prAna Living, boast an outdoor climbing area while the nearly beach-front campus of GoPro, a global digital imaging company, includes large indoor areas for collaborative viewing, outdoor showers and stalls to store surf boards, bikes and other recreational gear.
prAna Living Founder, Beaver Theodasakis,
Carlsbad’s promise of “the good life” is also attracting companies more commonly found in Silicon Valley.
Global science research lab Thermo Fisher, with over 50,000 employees worldwide and $17 Million in revenue, is headquartered in Carlsbad, which has been a boon for the company in attracting workers for high-demand engineering jobs.
Says Mark Field, Chief Technology Officer and VP, SW Engineering, “Tijuana in an hour away, and Tijuana graduates about the same number of software engineers as the U.S. It’s become a great resource for American companies who often can’t find enough engineers.”
Of course, some companies are based in Carlsbad because it is home to their founders, including the global pharmaceutical firm, Ionis. Founded in 1989, over half of the company’s original team still remains almost three decades later. In fact, the company experiences less than 5% annual turnover where the industry average is 27%.
Stanley Crooke, M.D., Ph.D., who serves as Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, credits the loyalty of his team to their mission. “Sick people depend on us. If that doesn’t at least make you catch your breath a little bit, you probably don’t want to come here. The challenges are substantial, and the benefit to the patients we hope is even more substantial.”
Patent Wall at Ionis Pharmaceuticals Headquarters
Ionis recently moved into a larger facility, which is never an easy decision. “Startups get used to living cheap, but it’s amazing how much benefit it’s been. People like coming to work here. In this world of hyper-specialization, people tend to see the world as separate, but life is one fabric, so we have art everywhere, a gym, full-court basketball, outdoor walking trails … it’s a happy place. It’s not an easy place – stress, high drive, intense – but happy.”
The drug company has also secured numerous patents – a fairly common occurrence for companies in Carlsbad. Some 6933 patent applications were filed between 2008-2016, and more than 650 patents of those issued to Carlsbad businesses were issued within the past year.
That works out to about 12 patents for every 1,000 workers, a rate that significantly outpaces larger innovation hubs like San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose.
If a team can file for a patent in the morning and spend the late afternoon catching waves, it certainly begs the question of whether it might time to give up the snow shovel.
The folks in Carlsbad certainly think so.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.