Over 325 business and community leaders gathered on Thursday, December 14 at The Seabird Resort in Oceanside to honor companies, developments, and projects with North County Economic Development Awards.

Each year, the San Diego North Economic Development Council (SDNEDC) solicits nominations for entities that help create a more economically competitive region by:

  • opening or relocating a business to North County,
  • launching new policies, activities, or programs in North County, and
  • making significant expansions, new developments, or new investments as an existing North County business.


2023 North County Economic Development Award Winners:


See more detailed information about each awardee’s project and impacts below.


Kaiser Permanente’s San Marcos Medical Center

In August 2023, Kaiser Permanente officially opened its San Marcos Medical Center to patients, generating over 1,000 new jobs. The new hospital earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council as the third hospital in California to attain this status. Notably, the hospital also houses a state-of-the-art labor and delivery department and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), addressing a critical need in the region as other healthcare facilities are suspending or merging their labor and delivery services.


Project Next’s Xcelerate Program

Project Next’s newest program, Xcelerate, fills a gap for students who struggle academically yet excel in other areas. It offers students assistance with finding a job, creating a resume, and practicing pre-employment skills. College enrollment data shows 20-30% of high school graduates go straight into the workforce. Xcelerate is a game-changer, preparing them to do so properly and professionally, yielding a great impact in their lives as well as in our local economy.


City of Escondido & Fresh Brewed Tech’s AgTech Hackathon

AgTech Hackathon is a collaboration between Fresh Brewed Tech and the City of Escondido with the primary goal of fostering innovation and promoting economic development within the agriculture and technology sectors. The event brings together entrepreneurs, technologists, farmers, economic developers and other stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to address local agriculture challenges in a post-COVID-19 world.

The original incubator concept has grown to develop partnership Memorandums of Understandings (MOUs) crafted between University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as with California State University of San Marcos. Winning companies for the event are entitled to cash and in-kind prizes, including incubation at the new Aquillius BioTech Incubator.


Genentech’s Single Use Technology Project

Genentech pioneered the processes and technologies used to manufacture complex biological medicines. After more than four decades of manufacturing innovation, they remain dedicated to North County as their Oceanside Single Use Technology project brings over 150 permanent full-time jobs and countless construction jobs in its structural period. This cutting-edge facility will further solidify North County as a home for biotech & pharma.


Argonaut’s 5-Facility Expansion

Beginning its journey with a single facility in 2016, Argonaut experienced rapid growth, expanding its footprint to five state-of-the-art facilities in Carlsbad. Growing at an additional rate of 20% during 2023, Argonaut anticipates an ambitious forecast – tripling their revenue in the next 5 years – and is on track to employ up to 300 individuals. As they continue to expand, they attract other businesses and investors to the region, fostering a collaborative business ecosystem and promoting North County as a hub for innovation, manufacturing, and prosperity.


M2 Ingredients’ $20M Facility Construction

After 15 years, M2 Ingredients made the strategic decision to consolidate all their operations into one facility in Vista. Once constructed, the $20 million facility will be the largest mushroom powder producer in the US, employing over 120 people. M2 Ingredients is the owner of the Om Mushrooms brand of mushroom powder and supplements found in health food stores and warehouse retailers across the country.

Their Vista expansion project helps the community by growing the North County food science industry cluster, provides exciting career opportunities for North County residents, and equips M2 to retain a leadership role in the mushroom powder industry.


2023 North County Steward: Gary Levitt

A North County Steward is an individual who has worked to make our community a better place for those who live here and who passionately believes in making it better for the generations to come.


Through his company, Sea Breeze Properties, Gary Levitt created the legacy of ‘North City,’ a 200-acre urban village in the center of San Marcos that serves as a catalyst for growth and economic expansion in the region. More recently, Gary has been selected to redesign the Carlsbad Village Transit Center with a more vibrant vision.


Jim Callaghan, Jr. takes over Chairman of the Board from Aaron Byzak

Aaron Byzak, during his tenure as Chairman of the Board, significantly contributed to SDNEDC’s growth. He oversaw the expansion of staffing and the launch of the impactful #whynorthcounty attraction campaign. The launch of SOCAL (Student Opportunities for Career Awareness and Learning), in collaboration with Tri-City Medical Center and North County Chambers of Commerce, highlighted his commitment to workforce development. Leveraging his extensive North County and civic engagement background, Byzak fortified SDNEDC’s foundation. Jim Callaghan, Jr. brings a wealth of experience from both the private and non-profit sectors, particularly in commercial real estate. As the new Chairman of the Board, he is positioned to guide the Council in delivering value to employers and promoting regional prosperity.

Do you have a project that supports economic development in North County? Let us know about it! Email Caitlyn at ccanby@sdnedc.org so we can share your story, and subscribe to our newsletter for updates . We will call for award nominations for the 2024 North County Economic Development Awards in October. Self nominations are accepted and encouraged!

Caitlyn Canby loves to discover and share people’s stories. She has her bachelor’s degree in Communications, Print Journalism with over 8 years of journalism experience. An Escondido native, she just moved back from Catalina Island to North County with her husband and two children to the town of Fallbrook. Caitlyn enjoys collaborating on projects as Marketing and Events Coordinator at SDNEDC, traveling, and exploring new restaurants, venues, experiences, and cultures.





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