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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

June 14, 2013
By Jennifer Storm
 
Breweries and biotech companies abound. Strong public/private collaboration. A modernized downtown. A breathtaking waterfront. Until I came back from Yokohoma, Japan last week, I thought San Diego was the only place where this existed.
 
I was representing EDC as part of the World Trade Center San Diego’s trade mission to Japan, along with BIOCOM and San Diego Regional Airport Authority, to learn about further strengthening ties between the two regions. Last week, I boarded a plane at Lindbergh Field. Nearly 12 hours later, on one of the most immaculate airplanes I have ever seen, I stepped foot in Narita Airport in Tokyo thanks to Japan Airlines' direct service. A few days and a bus ride later I found myself on the way to Yokohoma, Japan – San Diego’s sister city. 
 
From an economic standpoint, it’s an optimal time to launch flight service between San Diego and Japan. Much like the U.S., Japan is climbing out of recession. As such, they’ve adopted liberal spending policies – known as Abe-nomics –to spur investment and growth, so there is a strong potential for increased foreign direct investment .  
 
YokohamaWhile in Yokohoma, Japanese business leaders exhibited their strong interest in partnering with San Diego companies. We were met with a delegation of 40 business leaders who had ties to San Diego or were interested in creating them. The strong link between Yokohama and San Diego was very apparent- I even met the sole distributor of Stone Beer in Japan! 
 
Traveling to Japan also helped me put things in perspective back home. It’s amazing how two distinct countries could have so much in common, yet also have the opportunity to learn so much from one another. The infrastructure in Japan is outstanding. You can move from one place to another with absolute ease.  This is something we’re working on in San Diego, but admittedly, we’re just not there yet.
 
On the other hand, while touring a biotech company, I had the opportunity to chat with one employee who had previously spent time at the Salk Institute. He noted that although he prefers Japan on a personal level, he misses the creative freedom of working in the U.S.  If he discovered something while in his lab at Salk, he had the freedom to explore that opportunity, in the hopes that it would lead to further research. Although it varies from company to company, he echoed that Japan has more of a regimented work environment. 
 
Although each city has excelled in similar industries, we have a lot of lessons to learn from each other. After all, isn’t that what siblings are for?
 
To learn more about San Diego’s most recent business delegation to Japan, you can read Joe Panetta’s guest column in the U-T.  
 
May 30, 2013

San Diego Regional EDC 48th Annual Dinner

America leads the world in innovation says Jim Clifton, author of The Coming Jobs War and Chairman and CEO of Gallup, but innovation alone is not enough to fuel job growth. Clifton was in town to give the keynote speech at San Diego Regional EDC’s annual dinner. More than 800 people listened in almost total silence (no mean feat for a group that size) as Clifton talked about the difference between innovation and entrepreneurship. According to Clifton, we know how to test for intellectual talent and scout intellectual talent but we have no mechanism to determine who can best take those ideas to the marketplace. And without a customer, the best ideas do nothing for job creation.

Clifton picked up on the dinner’s recurring theme of collaboration as reflected in the comments of EDC Chairman Stath Karras and EDC President and CEO Mark Cafferty. He referred to his concept of “tribal leaders” in a community, those who constantly question and suggest new approaches to issues. “When leaders get their strength together, there is no limit to what you can do,” Clifton said, recognizing that most of the region’s leaders were in the room.

Clifton acknowledged one of San Diego’s best examples of a tribal leader – Malin Burnham – who was instrumental in bringing Clifton’s ideas to the business community and in bringing Clifton himself to San Diego.

Clifton made it clear that no one should be looking to Washington for solutions to America’s problems. “We have to win the world back one great city at a time,” he said.

EDC’s annual dinner also honored former EDC Chairman Bill Geppert with the Herb Klein Civic Leadership Award. Geppert was humble and gracious in his remarks, mentioning many beloved San Diegans who came before him as great civic leaders.

Many people took to twitter to discuss the event:

 

 

May 23, 2013

What everyone in the world wants is a good job.

It sounds simple enough. If a region can create these so calledgood’ jobs, then it will prosper. But how do we do this? Cue Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton.

Clifton, author of The Coming Jobs War, says we should focus on creating good jobs because as jobs go, so does the fate of nations. Economic stability hinges on leadership’s ability to create these good jobs. San Diego, with its geographic destiny and strong business climate, must continue to leverage its assets and traded economies – military, tourism and innovation – to pull ahead in the great jobs race.

Fast forward to less than a week from now, we’ll be sitting at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hearing Jim Clifton discuss how San Diego can get ahead in the race for good jobs at EDC’s 48th Annual Dinner.

For the past 47 years, EDC’s Annual Dinner has been full of excitement, celebrating the Mega-Region’s rich and diverse businesses. With more than 850 elected officials, and community and business leaders in attendance, this year promises to be no different.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the generous support of our numerous sponsors and investors, and our dinner underwriter, Point Loma Nazarene University.

Register here for the dinner and make sure to join the conversation on twitter #EDCAnnualDinner

If you want to see a round-up of some of last year’s highlights, you can check them out on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150851843796717.403117.60837071716&type=1&l=12c6879af9

May 21, 2013

 

 
Boxing analogies abound around San Diego. Media coverage about the release of the San Diego Metropolitan Export Initiative last week included a quote that San Diego is punching below its weight in exports. 
 
A few days later, EDC’s President and CEO Mark Cafferty is quoted saying about San Diego “We’re punching below our weight.”
 
The U-T profile, penned by John Wilkens, took a deep dive into life in San Diego and at EDC with Mark, exploring his goals for EDC and San Diego, and most importantly, how he views the region:
“When you are speaking economically, San Diego has a lot of great things that happen here that are either in the shadow of other places when I don’t think they need to be, or the laid-back persona starts to cross over into places where I think we need to project a little stronger and bigger and smarter.”
 
With Mark’s guidance, EDC has strengthened its focus on economic development with the goal of creating jobs and maximizing the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. 
 
 
Read the complete profile: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/May/18/cafferty-EDC-San-Diego-image/?#article-copy
 
 
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May 16, 2013

At EDC, we're always looking for new ways to tell San Diego's unique story. With the release of the Brookings Metropolitan Export Initiative was a good time to try it out. Using Storify, we integrated pictures, tweets, quotes and other forms of media from the event. Here's what we came up with:

 

Help us keep the conversation about the critical role exports can play in the region's global competitiveness strategy 

May 13, 2013

“It’s clear to us we are a global city,” said City of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner as he kicked off a press conference and town hall on May 13. Its focus was the need for the San Diego region to increase export activity in order to grow jobs and economic prosperity. It may be clear to San Diego, but it might not be clear to the rest of the world. He's out to change that perception and at the same time create more of the middle class jobs that were once the backbone of the San Diego economy. "We have not fulfilled our potential," he said, adding that we have the political will to change.

Each speaker commented on the findings of a market assessment that was the catalyst for the gathering. The market assessment is the first key step in the Brookings Metropolitan Export Initiative, a program focused on helping eight regions create collaborations from the ground up to design and implement customized metropolitan export plans.

City of San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey pointed out that San Diego has lots of advantages other areas don’t have, such as our technology sectors.

Michael Masserman, from the U.S. International Trade Administration came to offer his agency’s support which includes opening markets for exports and entering into trade agreements to facilitate exports. “Jobs in export-oriented companies pay 15 – 20 percent higher wages that their non-exporting counterparts,” said Masserman.

Elliott Hirshman, president of San Diego State University, discussed the importance of international engagement in educating the workforce of the future citing a substantial increase in international programs at San Diego State.

Peter Cowhey, dean of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego, presented highlights from the market assessment. Cowhey, along with two of his graduate students, was responsible for conducting the survey and collecting the data for the market assessment. “San Diego is punching well below our weight,” said Cowhey, pointing out that although San Diego is the country’s 17th largest metropolitan economy, we rank only 55th when examining exports as a share of our regional economic output.

The market assessment revealed that San Diego’s exporters see a need for infrastructure development in three major areas: port, airport and cyber infrastructure.

Bob Nelson, vice chair of the board of port commissioners, agreed that if the region is going to see growth in exports then we need to see growth in infrastructure. The Port has in the works infrastructure improvements worth close to $100 million.

Robert Gleason, board chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, said that San Diego International Airport has a critical role to play in increasing export activity. That includes additional international non-stop service and increasing cargo capacity. An added benefit of more international visitors (which are also considered exports) is that they typically spend almost double what a domestic visitor spends on a trip.

Steven Weathers, president and CEO of World Trade Center San Diego, an organization that provides direct services to exporting companies, said that many people ask him, “What’s the big goal?” His answer? “Job creation – sustainable, diverse, job creation.”

photo left to right: Mayor Bob Filner, City Councilman Mark Kersey, Michael Masserman, Peter Cowhey, Bob Nelson, Robert Gleason, Elliot Hirshman, Steven Weathers

Access the full report: San Diego Metropolitan Export Initiative Market Assessment

Media coverage 

Region needs to boost exporting, report saysU-T San Diego
Local leaders push boosting trade, The Daily Transcript  
San Diego could be exporting more, Brookings Institution reports, KPBS

 

 
 

                                  

April 22, 2013

 

The cornerstone of a successful economic development program is having strong data to ensure that we are making informed decisions about growing the economy. At EDC, we have been fortunate enough to partner with and benefit from the countless area organizations, companies and universities that have provided substantial economic data. Although we don’t see these partnerships slowing down, with the launch of our new research bureau, we will be putting out a quarterly snapshot of our own. 
 
We’ve heard countless times that San Diego has a strong VC cluster, a healthy tourism industry, and a world-class talent pool, but as we strive to make our region globally competitive, we want to know how we stack up with other metro areas. Our Q1 snapshot is our data-driven approach to answering that question.
 
The quarterly snapshot will report on key economic metrics that are important to understanding the regional economy and San Diego's standing relative to other major metropolitan areas in the U.S. Please take a look, share with friend and colleagues, and let us know what you think. 
 
http://www.sandiegobusiness.org/sites/default/files/EDC-SnapShot-2013-0415.pdf

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April 19, 2013

The Sunrise Powerlink is a 117-mile, $1.88 billion 500kV electric transmission line from Imperial Valley to San Diego. At the recent regional economic forum Michael R. Niggli, SDG&E President & COO, presented a case study on the Sunrise Powerlink project detailing the economic impact of the project and some of the ways in which the project worked to protect sensitive species during construction. The project was the largest infrastructure project in SDG&E's history. Completed in June 2012, it has already made a tangible difference in system operations and is crucial to alleviating the summer capacity shortages that threaten the area due to the ongoing outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Economic impact:

  • It's a veritable “renewable energy superhighway” that delivers 1,000 megawatts of power – enough energy for 650,000 homes
  • Generated an astounding $3.2  billion in economic activity and 23,000 jobs for California
  • Injected $1.7 billion into the U.S. economy - $1.1 billion of which was spent in Southern California
  • Catalyst for renewable energy construction; local projects currently under construction generating more than $5 billion in spending and 3,000 jobs

Protecting sensitive species:

  • Created a 13-mile construction free zone for bighorn sheep lambing season from January 1 – June 30
  • Established no-fly zones of more than 4,000-feet around golden eagle nesting sites from December 1 – June 30
  • Relocated hundreds of flat-tailed horned lizards relocated Imperial Valley construction yards and protecting them with specially-designed exclusion fencing
  • Installed special fencing to protect arroyo toads in project locations
  • Preserved in perpetuity more than 11,000 acres of scenic habitat for future generations to enjoy

Sunrise Powerlink enhances reliability, accesses renewable energy and significantly boosts economic development. Businesses are looking for a healthy, reliable power supply. Sunrise Powerlink provides that - while at the same time it is encouraging renewable projects and promoting cleantech industries.

April 15, 2013

Photo Credit: Tony Manolatos

On the plane ride from Coronado to the U.S. Navy’s secluded San Clemente Island, more than one person made a reference to the hit dramatic series “Lost” and the eerie remoteness the TV show shared with our destination. From the plane you could see there wasn’t much to look at on this rugged and narrow stretch of land about 70 miles northwest of San Diego.

San Clemente Island is a place few civilians know about and even fewer see, but it plays a critical role in preparing the Navy to protect and serve. Every Navy SEAL, including the ones who took out Osama bin Laden, trains here at some point. Two “towns” have been built to resemble communities in the Middle East. It’s here where the SEALs, who train for two years before their first combat mission, practice missions at night. Snipers firing at moving targets inside buildings is just one of numerous clandestine training operations carried out routinely on the island.

At the far south end, Navy ships fire ashore while helicopters zero in on targets below. The U.S. Marines also use the island to conduct amphibious assault training and the FBI works there with Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams.  

The 21-mile island is just part of the story; to the west, an ocean area the size of California is where Naval ships and aircraft practice maneuvers.

No one lives on the island year-round and on off days you’ll find less than 100 people. The convenience store is stocked with chewing tobacco and is next door to the lone bar - the Salty Crab. All of the common areas, including the mess hall and the gym, are spotless. The Navy acquired San Clemente Island in 1934. Before that, it was home to goats and farmers.

Today, it is the Navy’s only remaining ship-to-shore live firing range, but it’s facing potential cutbacks due to sequestration. The Navy recently invited a Photo Credit: Tony Manolatoshandful of San Diegans to the island so we have a better understanding of the role it plays in military preparations.

During our visit, we heard just as much about the environment and wildlife as we heard about training exercises. On one part of the island, SEAL hopefuls were on Day 2 of “Hell Week” - which wasn’t even an afterthought among the biologists and botanists working to protect native plants and wildlife.

If the Navy encounters endangered species it stops training until the animals are safely removed from the area - a process that can take months and cost millions of dollars.

From a recent U-T San Diego story:

“The Navy spent more than $7 million last fiscal year to protect the island’s endangered or threatened species, which include 10 federally listed animals and plants.

"Now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is considering delisting or downgrading the status of three protected species - the Island Night Lizard and two plants - because they are flourishing, said Sandy Vissman, the federal agency’s coordinator for the island.”

Adm. Dixon Smith and Capt. Gary Mayes led our visit of the 56-square-mile island on Tuesday (April 9), and we couldn’t have asked for better hosts.

These two men, and other men and women we met, care deeply about San Clemente Island, the training missions and the plants and animals who flourish there. They took the time to talk to each of us individually and answer all of our questions.

These are difficult times financially for the Navy and other military branches, but leaders like Adm. Smith and Capt. Mayes make it difficult for you to focus on the negative. We are fortunate to have such exceptional people committed to serving America.

As we said our goodbyes and left the island, we were again reminded of the TV series "Lost.”

The show frequently made viewers aware of one of life’s great lessons - it’s easier to succeed, and survive, with the help of others. Lost’s fascinating cast of characters constantly found themselves in need of support from others - in both obvious and unexpected ways.

On the plane ride home from San Clemente Island, we realized we now have a role in supporting the men and women on this remote patch of land. It was clear to us that it was our job to bring you their story, to write about our experiences, to do what we could to support the fascinating cast of characters we had just met. 

April 10, 2013

What Makes San Diego an Ideal Home for Your Business?

Moderator Randy Frisch addresses a packed room at the Forum

Six private sector executives told 300 forum participants about their experiences doing business in San Diego. The panel was part of the 2013 Regional Economic Development Forum sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric, Wells Fargo and the Morgan Family Foundation. San Diego’s regional forum is the first of 15 forums gathering input that will culminate in the California Economic Summit in Los Angeles in November 2013.  Broad questions touching on successes, challenges and the ubiquitous Why San Diego? brought mostly positives from the panelists. Bottom line: we need more of what we’ve got – more talent, more capital, more support for entrepreneurship. The only thing we need less of is regulation – actually the panelists’ companies are willing to comply with regulations – but they uniformly called for better coordination among regulators.

 

Craig Bartels, vice president of technology for Hydranautics, described how his company has to keep changing and reinventing, citing that 30 – 40 percent of their sales are from products introduced within the last three years. San Diego has the talent and the know-how to innovate so Hydranautics can stay on the leading edge of their industry, which is providing technology for reverse osmosis water treatment.

Joseph Mahler is CFO of Synthetic Genomics, a company using genomics to create sustainability for food and fuel. The company is currently focused on algae biofuels. Mahler calls it “intellectual capital,” and says San Diego has what it takes to anchor a core in genomics and that we should focus on leveraging the talent here to build capacity in the industry.

Panelist from a diverse range of businesses discuss why they chose San Diego

Brick Nelson is the corporate lead executive for Northrop Grumman Corporation in San Diego.  As someone who was transferred to San Diego, with peers around the country in similar positions, he said that San Diego has no equal in the country in terms of partnerships and the spirit of collaboration. Nelson reiterated the need for “smart, young folks,” and mentioned STEM education as very important in an industry where many employees will soon be aging out of the workforce.

Matt Raine, executive vice president of business development at Evolution Hospitality, brought the perspective of the tourism industry to the panel. His company provides hotel management services to a range of hotel properties, including 10 in San Diego. Raine described the three pillars of San Diego’s tourism industry as groups, leisure and government business. However, one area where San Diego trails other major cities is the number of individual business travelers. He stressed the importance of marketing the destination.

Don Rockwell is the CEO of Aqua Lung International, a company that develops, manufactures and distributes sports and defense equipment. Rockwell described San Diego as a hub for dive companies – even the industry association is located in San Diego. When asked what San Diego can do for his business, he mentioned water quality as a concern.

Tom Tullie, president and CEO of ecoATM, talked candidly about the challenges of raising capital from local sources. While he thinks San Diego has a good angel community, entrepreneurs must still look outside San Diego to raise significant venture money. His company, which provides automated, self-serve kiosks for recycling electronics, has benefited from the support network provided by CommNexus and their incubator EvoNexus, and CONNECT.

Check out the complete briefing book from the forum that gives an overview of regional priorities and continue to join the conversation on twitter #Caeconomy