New reports shed light on key regional industries

Covers of 4 industry reportsThe aerospace, precision manufacturing, technology and clean tech industries provide 32,000 jobs in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, contribute nearly $8 billion in economic impact, and are poised to spur an additional 6,250 jobs across the regional economy by 2027.

Agriculture and agriculture technology, meanwhile, encompass 35,000 jobs and are projected to grow 10% by 2027, far outpacing the state and national projections of 1% and 5%.

Those are some of the findings in a new set of in-depth reports on four Central Coast industries targeted for growth potential. The reports draw on extensive data collection and analysis to paint a picture of each industry’s landscape, talent pipeline, economic impact and growth projection.

Among facets and factors unique to each industry, the reports also note the common challenge of a regional outmigration of workers that will require targeted talent development and attraction efforts to offset.

These forward-looking industries are a growing part of the regional economy and primed for further expansion. These reports provide analysis and insights to help the region’s companies, education and workforce providers, and policy makers work collectively to reach the brass ring of thousands of new good jobs on the Central Coast.
— Melissa James, REACH President/CEO

The background: REACH commissioned the reports to support the region’s growth of these key industries. They were funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration grant that also funded development of the Resilience Roadmap, the two-county region’s first-ever comprehensive economic development strategy, with local matching from the Counties of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara and Bank of America. TIP Strategies, also the facilitating consultant on the Resilience Roadmap, developed the reports, with data and analysis by Lightcast and guidance from four regional industry councils.


Industry Snapshots

Here are highlights from each of the reports. We’ll take a deeper dive into each of the industries in future posts.

Graphic of aerospace and precision manufacturing industry stats: $2.31 billion regional industry, 9,800 jobs, 1,837 projected jobs added to economy by 2027Aerospace + Precision Manufacturing
  • A pioneer in space launch, infrared, and sensing technologies, the region is well positioned to capture investment in these fast-growing global industries.
  • The region’s strengths in manufacturing navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments represents a unique advantage.
  • The majority of space and aerospace jobs are based in Santa Barbara County, though SLO County has seen dramatic growth that is projected to continue.
  • Precision manufacturing jobs are among the highest paying in the region, averaging annual wages of $146,490.
  • View full report.
Graphic of agriculture and agtech industry stats: $4.41 billion regional industry, 35,000 jobs, 12,500 projected jobs added to economy by 2027Agriculture + Agtech
  • The industry plays an essential role in the regional economy, accounting for nearly 1 out of every 10 jobs.
  • Employment growth has outpaced the state and nation for two decades, a trend expected to continue. Considering ripple effects, projected growth would spur more than 12,500 jobs across the economy by 2027.
  • Talent development is vital, considering the skills and technology demands of the industry’s continued modernization, as is addressing sustainability challenges.
  • View full report.
Graphic of clean tech and renewable energy industry stats: $2.312 billion regional industry, 9,300 jobs, 1,216 projected jobs added to economy by 2027Clean Tech + Renewable Energy
  • As a long-standing energy hub for the state, the Central Coast’s power generation and transmission capabilities serve as a vital economic driver for the region.
  • The regional industry has added 3,700 jobs over the last two decades, with growth rates outpacing the state and US.
  • Annual wages average $113,132, and many of the most in-demand jobs have low barriers to entry.
  • Regional strengths and opportunities extend beyond energy production to water conservation, sustainable building practices, and environmental consulting.
  • View full report.
Graphic oftechnology industry stats: $3.29 billion regional industry, 13,000 jobs, 3,200 projected jobs added to economy by 2027Technology
  • The region is a growing tech hub with a mix of globally recognized companies and locally grown innovators and the entrepreneurial assets to support further expansion.
  • The industry has added 5,000 jobs over the last two decades. Though the majority of the growth has been in Santa Barbara County, the number of tech jobs in SLO County has doubled in that time.
  • The region’s strengths extend beyond traditional technology to include engineering, testing, and research and development.
  • There’s a robust regional talent pipeline, and annual wages average $151,861.
  • View full report.