Three things to keep in mind when doing business in North County

By Haley Peterson – Why North County? North County is flourishing with growth, entrepreneurship, tourism and economic activity. So, I think the question should be, why not North County? It is filled with beauty, but it is also an attractive place to do business.

There are so many projects, people and organizations that aspire to strengthen North San Diego County. The unincorporated communities and cities north of the 56 and across Highway 78, or “hops highway” as it has become known, are all allies in bolstering and empowering businesses, non-profits and upholding each community’s distinct character.

If North County is new to you, here’s a quick primer:

  1. The political climate is shifting rapidly

As lawsuits began threatening cities across San Diego County in 2017, city councils have moved to implement district-based elections, rather than voting at-large. These lawsuits were introduced in relation to the California Voting Rights Act which was implemented to address the criticism that at-large elections remove the power of minority groups.

Keep an eye on races from the 49th Congressional seat, to the new 76th Assemblymember to local city councils. Between implementing district-wide elections, to tenured elected officials being replaced by first term representatives, if you’re doing business in North County, you’ll want to be up to speed on these changes.

  1. North County has a distinct political, economic, and cultural identity

Many assume that North County is a sleepy bedroom community. In reality, it is a robust economic engine that holds some of the top companies in biotech, life sciences and innovation.

Each city and unincorporated community brings a distinctive environment reflective of their own history, commerce, and attributes that create a sense of place unique to their neighbors. The City of Vista has a rural charm and more breweries per capita than anywhere else in California. While the cities do work in collaboration with one another, it is imperative to know the distinct traits that make their city special. Be sure to partner with local experts that can help navigate those identities through a network of partnerships to create a lasting impact in the community.

  1. North County is determined to address its housing crisis

While cities like San Marcos have provided a significant infill of affordable housing, the reality is that 47% of people still pay 35% or more of their income on rent alone. North County faces an overpriced market, a supply shortage and a homeless crisis.

However, there is momentum to affect change! For example, the Oceanside Police Department has a homeless outreach team that partners with social workers to provide wraparound solutions to permanently get people off of the streets. They are now inspiring other cities, like Carlsbad, to follow suit. Additionally, Greg Anglea CEO of Interfaith Community Services, based in Escondido, recently launched a summit to gather people from various backgrounds to strategize on resolutions to homelessness.

While we know that the housing crisis cannot be solved overnight, there is good work being done to address the issue. Growth needs to happen responsibly but also realistically, so we can ensure current and future generations have a place to live. The San Diego North EDC is hosting a housing summit July 19th to discuss realities and solutions to this very issue.

It is hard for some people, especially those south of the 52, to imagine all of this action happening in North County. We are continuing to bridge the gap with the City of San Diego and everywhere in between. It is imperative that we remain relevant in advocacy, community outreach and strategic planning. Between job growth and a great quality of life, North County is the place to be and be seen. Come explore our diverse ecosystem of opportunity!

Haley Peterson manages North County government affairs clients and issues at Intesa Communications Group, a strategic communications and government relations firm.

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