New CEO tapped for local economic development council

REGION — The door has been a revolving one at the San Diego North Economic Development Council.

In the past three years, there has been a trio of CEOs including the newest, Erik Bruvold, who takes over after the departure of Mike Culley.

Bruvold, 52, previously worked for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and was the chief economist at National University. He returned Jan. 1 to usher in a new, and hopefully stable, direction. He said his passion for North County, having lived in the area for the past 25 years, is one reason he returned and aims to push the council’s core values.

Erik Bruvold

“I thought it was a great opportunity to help the organization get to a new level,” Bruvold said. “It needed to have a little bit more strengthening of its core value proposition and mission statement. It’s core reason for existence is economic development.”

The three pillars of those core values, he said, are to market the region, retention and the workforce pipeline.

Marketing includes the lifestyle and displaying North County as an economic hotbed of growth and development. As for retention, Bruvold said it is critical to work with businesses to keep them in the region and working with policy makers to remain competitive.

The workforce, meanwhile, is a point to break down barriers so businesses and educational institutions can connect with the talent.

Mark Cafferty, CEO and president of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, said Bruvold is a great fit for his new position.

“It’s great when you someone who is local,” Cafferty said, noting he wasn’t disparaging the other CEOs. “He goes into it with a strong understanding of who the business community is and what’s critical and important to them now.”

Cafferty said the San Diego North Economic Development Council, along with the two other economic development councils, are the eyes and ears for the regional council. He said North County’s economy is healthy and robust, yet a microcosm of San Diego.

Cafferty added Bruvold’s strengths are twofold: he has the research experience from his previous positions, along with public policy work.

Also, he praised the efforts of the council and the mayors of the five cities — Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido — through the Innovate 78 program to join forces and keep business in North County.

“It’s a great microcosm of San Diego’s economy,” Cafferty said. “When you throw in the work of the mayors of those five cities … then you get into some tactical economical activity that wasn’t there before. It makes the possibilities stronger up there.”

The strength of North County, Bruvold said, is the diversity of the industries. Those are led by life sciences, telecommunications and information technology, craft brewing and light manufacturing.

One challenge, though, is working on creating and enhancing neighborhoods where younger entrepreneurs can work, live and play in close proximity, Bruvold added.

“There are going to be pockets of our downtowns that can be denser, more walkable and more conducive to that kind of lifestyle,” he said.

Future plans include a North County Housing Summit this summer. The housing summit is to discuss the need for more housing and why affordability is hurting companies’ ability to recruit talent and to display the denser and mixed-use developments.

“Really, appealing to a key demographic that is going to be critical to attract and retain if we are going to be economically competitive,” Bruvold said. “North County is becoming a self-contained economic entity.”

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