“Our physical, social, technological systems can be connected differently in ways that we can’t imagine individually but can execute collaboratively. Those unknown possibilities, are what get me up in the morning.” – Christie Marcella
If you’re searching for North County economic development experts, Christie Marcella makes the short list. Having worked at the City of Carlsbad as an economic development manager and now serving as the chief operating officer at Connect San Diego (Connect), Marcella knows her way around the region. Passionate about community, connection and support, Marcella is who you want in your strategic counsel corner.
We picked her brain about Connect’s resources, why our business community is amazing and what you need to know to startup or scale in North County.
What type of support does Connect offer to established and new entrepreneurs?
At Connect, we offer strategic counsel, support and access to educational information to scalable innovative companies in technology, life sciences and occasionally consumer brands. Our support is free, allowing us to provide neutral, honest feedback to help companies thrive. We also curate events that bring together founders, advisors, service providers and the venture capital community.
As a Small Business Development Center, we are able to leverage a network of nearly a dozen centers to help entrepreneurs at all stages. If Connect doesn’t have the resources to support an entrepreneur, we know our larger San Diego & Imperial County SBDC Network will.
How would you define North County’s business community?
North County’s business community is diverse and thriving; from small companies to global corporations, from vibrant downtowns to corporate headquarters, North County has a lot to offer. It significantly contributes to the region’s reputation as a global innovation hub.
I love seeing big names like ViaSat, Genentech, ThermoFisher, TaylorMade and Hunter Industries in its business parks and then visiting farmer’s markets across the 78 Corridor to see the next generation of brands. Or even better, seeing newer technology companies take smaller spaces of innovation companies that built a new, bigger campus.
Additionally, I think the strength of the higher education institutions in North County and more importantly how they are cooperating to be nimble, will only help to serve the growth of the region.
What, in your opinion, would be the benefits of running a business here?
There is ample room for growth along the entire North County 78 Corridor that will largely allow you to keep the same employees, supply chains and connections in place, which is really exciting. The quality of properties in North County is also high, with great access to both the I-5 and I-15.
Most importantly, North County is a place where collaboration is strong, and where businesses can find that time to enjoy the work life balance that a place like San Diego County has to offer.
How does North County support the business ecosystem of San Diego?
Without North County, the region would not be able to thrive the way it has. So much of what you see clustered along the mesas are also in strong force up in North County; you’ll find everything from craft beer to life sciences. North County has some of the strongest activewear brands, including many of the major golf companies like Callaway Golf as well as lifestyle companies like Vuori. The higher education systems definitely are great talent feeders to our ecosystem, and investments in transportation infrastructure are helping the area grow while staying connected to the larger regional ecosystem.
In your bio, you mention being like Lucy from Charlie Brown with an advice booth—what advice would you give to someone who is looking to grow their business in North County? Pitfalls to avoid? Things to try?
For any entrepreneur, being ready to pivot, adapt and work hard is important. Many people get enamored with the startup dream and don’t take the time to plan for the journey. For every story of a company getting funded pre-revenue, there are thousands that didn’t get that funding until they showed traction—which is more of the norm.
But most importantly, take the feedback, especially the hard to hear feedback. Most people aren’t going to give you bad news because they want to put you or your idea down. Most are giving you feedback based on their own experience, or their reality.
If you are ready to pivot, willing to change or tweak, then more resources and more support will come to you.
And, as always, Innovate78 is a resource for all innovative businesses in North San Diego County. Partners from the cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista are available as economic development stewards to help you prosper.
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Connect elevates entrepreneurs by providing educational programming, mentorship, introductions, and access to capital. We help innovative companies thrive so they can make a meaningful impact in the development of the San Diego region. We’re on a mission to build a world-class innovation economy.