San Diego’s tech sector is hitting its stride, with tech giants such as Amazon, Google and now Apple moving in. New accelerators and coworking spaces are cropping up downtown and in University City. But some parts of town have yet to reap the benefits.
In Lincoln Park, near the center of San Diego’s Diamond Business Improvement District, a group of business leaders is working to bolster tech jobs in southeast San Diego. They plan to accomplish this by recruiting and growing local startups.
San Diego’s oldest startup accelerator, Connect, is working with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the city of San Diego to create a new diversity-driven accelerator. Called Connect All @ The Jacobs Center, the program is intended to both support underrepresented founders and spur economic development outside of the
usual tech hubs.
“It’s absolutely the time for this in San Diego,” Connect CEO Greg McKee said. “We’ve seen a lot of successes in the development of our tech ecosystem here, but that has primarily been north of the 8, not south of the 8. Everybody needs to have access to benefits of being a part of the tech ecosystem.”
Connect recently began accepting applications for the six-month program, which will launch this spring. It is seeking companies with a technology component created by underrepresented founders who are looking to expand.
The Jacobs Center is preparing a 4,300-square-foot space specifically designed for the accelerator. In addition to office space, companies accepted into Connect All will have access to mentorship from experts, training curriculum and the opportunity to access capital. Unlike most programs in town, they are not required to give up an equity stake.
“What we’re excited about here at the Jacobs Center is the opportunity this brings to enhance economic potential and strength in a historically underinvested area,” said Jacobs Center CEO Reginald Jones. “Looking at this notion of economic development, we think these emerging businesses are important to job growth.”
Connect and the Jacobs Center are bringing in a cadre of public and private partners to help fund the new accelerator. The city of San Diego’s Economic Development Department helped secure a $2.5 million community development block grant to support the program for four years.
The grant includes funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as private funding from MUFG Union Bank N.A. and bkm OfficeWorks.