By Sarah Macdonald
San Marcos is home to a bustling manufacturing industry, and though most of us never actually see it, recent findings reveal just how much business is booming in the city’s industrial parks.
Manufacturing is the city’s second-largest economic sector, accounting for nearly 7 percent of local gross domestic product — over $500 million — and providing 11 percent of the city’s employment, which is about 4,300 jobs, according to research by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.
What’s more, the median income for manufacturing jobs in San Marcos is about $70,000, which is nearly $15,000 higher than the rest of the region, state and nation. That’s thanks to a cluster of high-tech companies that make medical devices and information technology instruments.
“San Marcos is fortunate to have a manufacturing industry that attracts top talent and is a major contributor to our city’s economy,” said Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill.
Of course, this begs the question: What has attracted these manufacturers to San Marcos? And what is keeping them here?
The answer largely boils down to ample industrial space, and increasingly, a more collaborative relationship with the growing city.
For example, Hunter Industries, a global leader in irrigation, was launched in San Marcos 36 years ago and is now the city’s largest private employer. As the company has expanded, the city has been able to accommodate its headquarters, which now spans 20 acres and 11 buildings.
“We don’t have to pick up and move miles away as we grow,” explained Scotty Lombardi, Hunter Industries senior manager of global talent management. “In fact, we’re about to break ground on another empty lot in our business park.”
The company has manufacturing facilities across the world, but it’s managed to keep about 30 percent here in San Marcos. But beyond space, Lombardi says Hunter Industries has appreciated more outreach from the city in recent years.
“We are now much more aware of what’s happening in the city around us,” he said. “San Marcos has made it clear they’re a business partner and that makes us want to stay.”
That mix of industrial inventory and a business-friendly government is not only keeping longstanding companies put but is also attracting new manufacturers—particularly in the rising wave of craft beer and spirits.
The city already has nearly a dozen distilleries and breweries, which will soon include Raging Cider & Mead Co., slated to open next month.
“San Marcos is a great location for us because it has breweries, tap houses and pubs that cater to a public looking for new experiences in the world of craft beverages,” said David Carr, president of the new brewery.
And though this venture is part of an emerging scene, Carr himself is no stranger to the San Marcos manufacturing industry. In fact, for the past 17 years San Marcos has been home to his other manufacturing company, Crown Steel, which specializes in custom stainless steel fabrication and restaurant equipment.
Carr now plans to run both manufacturing companies out of his 20,000 square-foot industrial space. As a longtime local entrepreneur, Carr says working with other manufacturers is one of the things he enjoys most about being in San Marcos.
“We have discovered many other manufacturers in San Marcos who either provide services we need or have use of services we offer, and that’s been very good for our business,” he said.
Collectively, all that manufacturing activity in San Marcos is helping the San Diego region keep its footing as an industry hub, which includes more than 3,000 companies supporting more than 105,000 jobs, according the to San Diego Regional EDC.
Sarah Macdonald is the communications officer for the City of San Marcos. To learn more about the city’s economic development efforts, contact Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill.