Five North County cities have launched a branding and economic development initiative to collectively promote the state Route 78 corridor and increase their capacity to retain, expand and attract talent, companies and investment.

Dubbed Innovate78, the initiative is intended to fuel job creation in a region that is home to more than 600,000 residents and 20,000 thousand businesses.

“North County is not only a great place to live, but also a great place to build a company and work,” said Matt Hall, mayor of Carlsbad. “Through this collaboration, Innovate78 is about showing the rest of the world what North County is all about.”

The announcement was made at Cal State San Marcos, where the five mayors of each of the cities laid out their plan for prosperity and growth along the 78 Corridor, and unveiled a new website, Innovate78.com. The website will serve as a resource for the cities — Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista — to attract and retain companies, as well as for companies to attract and retain a skilled workforce.

“We see the benefits in collectively promoting the 78 Corridor cities,” said Jim Wood, mayor of Oceanside. “For the past two years, we’ve collaborated side-by-side to ensure that we’re recruiting and retaining businesses together. This website will ensure that we’re sending the right message to businesses and employers about the 78 Corridor.”

Innnovate78.com includes interactive features such as testimonials from companies, resources for building a business, a job portal, content about educational institutions and opportunities and information about living and getting around on the 78 Corridor. Additionally, it highlights attractions, educational institutions and prominent industries, such as life sciences, craft beer (specialty food & beverages), and manufacturing. A map detailing innovative employers, attractions and interest points along the 78 Corridor will be rolled out next month.

Jim Desmond, mayor of San Marcos said, “The business of economic development is changing. If we want to be effective, the goal is not to poach jobs from other regions, but to create jobs and explain why building a business along the 78 Corridor matters. Promoting the culture of North County - particularly for the younger, millennial demographic - is also an essential part of our marketing strategy.”

The initiative is still in its infancy, but has already had success. Last year, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, which was headquartered in Escondido, announced it had outgrown its local headquarters. Working together, the cities were able to move the company to a 130,000-square-foot facility in Vista, keeping it along the corridor, where it was able to retain employees.

“We have always been a collaborative city, but working with Escondido on the Dr. Bronner’s expansion showed us the true benefit of this partnership,” said Judy Ritter, mayor of Vista. “Employees of Dr. Bronner’s contribute to the economy of all five North County cities. Because of the Innovate78 initiative, we will see more collaboration like this in our future.”

Businesses are encouraged to leverage and link to the website to help attract employees and promote their North County location.