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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

EDC study first to quantify impact of defense spending in SD

February 14, 2018

Last week, President Trump signed a two-year budget deal that included a hike in the debt ceiling and agreements to raise spending caps for domestic and defense programs.

For San Diego, a community where 20 percent of our GRP is tied to the military, this bill provides some stability and relief from the constant threat of continuing resolutions and sequester.

In order to better understand how fluctuations in defense spending impact our regional economy, EDC has released “Mapping San Diego’s Defense Ecosystem,” as well as a data visualization tool at This is the first of its kind regional analysis that focuses on the industrial composition of the defense supply chain and quantifies the number of firms and jobs that are impacted by defense spending. This project was executed as part of phase one of Propel San Diego, a Department of Defense funded grant initiative awarded to the City of San Diego.  

Specifically, the web tool provides deal flow information at the zip code level and by industry across the county. Why this matters: the 2019 budget includes two Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO) priced at $1.1 billion. These ships will likely be built by General Dynamics NASSCO here in San Diego. While those contracts are awarded over a period time, by using this new tool, users can see that this funding will have a direct impact in creating more than 1,000 jobs in the shipbuilding and repair industry.

Key study findings include:

  • San Diego is the second largest recipient of defense procurement dollars in the U.S. 
  • A strong network of suppliers and access to customers are key reasons that 71 percent of firms have a favorable view of San Diego as a place to do business.
  • Defense contractor jobs have grown 6.3 percent over the last three years, and are expected to grow another 9.3 percent over the next year.
  • Since 2012, the majority of contract dollars received by the region were awarded by the Department of the Navy, each year awarding between 44 and 55 percent of total awards.
  • The majority of contract dollars were awarded to companies in the manufacturing industry, each year receiving anywhere between 47 and 68 percent of total contract dollars.

These resources provide companies, city planners, workforce agencies and economic development organizations better insights into how legislation like the bill signed into law last week can impact the San Diego community. The data has the potential to help companies prepare for new market opportunities and help communities prepare for changes in workforce demands, as has helped inform how EDC can better prioritize our limited resources in support of the region’s defense industry.

Following the successful execution of Propel San Diego’s phase one, the City of San Diego has been awarded a phase two grant for an additional $1.7 million. For more information, visit

Read the full study here.