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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

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

April 8, 2013

As an inveterate reader of the New York Times (online 24/6 and thick, wonderful print copy on Sunday) I was thrilled when I saw the Travel section was going to highlight San Diego in one of their “36 Hours in …” profiles.

Imagine my dismay when from the very first sentence I felt like the writer was describing a bad cartoon, poorly illustrated and lacking a solid punch line. Why should this matter to an economic development professional? Because not only is San Diego's convention and visitor industry the third largest industry in San Diego, it is also one of the ways we attract talent.  As one of the top 10 visitor and meeting destinations in the U.S., with more than 30 million visitors a year, it is no surprise that many of San Diego's knowledge workers first visited the region as a tourist or convention delegate.

So you can imagine that sentences that start with “If San Diego has an identity at all…” and a comparison to the movie Pleasantville (where two teens are sucked into their television into a black and white 1950's world which they slowly transform into color) would set a local’s teeth on edge.

I’d love to hear from the biotech entrepreneurs and the wireless communications wizards if that’s how they saw San Diego when They Came Here. And by the way, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, which is mentioned in the article, is across the street from some of the most advanced medical research facilities in the world. Believe me, the researchers love running the beach and the trails at lunch – year round.

Set aside for the moment whether the characterization is true or not (it’s not) and think about whether this kind of description would make you want to visit any location. Even Sioux Falls, South Dakota would want to be described in a more flattering way.

San Diego’s tech community has a reputation as open and welcoming and that’s one reason we’re successful at attracting the best and the brightest to work in our diverse technology clusters that range from defense to sports innovation, life sciences and clean tech.

Maybe it’s part of the California culture but it’s more than just “easy, breezy Southern California casualness.”

April 3, 2013

What Makes San Diego an Ideal Home for Your Business?

 

Regional leaders will convene soon to participate in a unique process designed to determine priorities for the region that will ultimately "roll up" to help set a state-wide agenda to revitalize California. The forum, sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric, will highlight projects that illustrate how local assets, policies and economic development tools led to successes and job growth. The audience will use interactive voting devices to prioritize policy matters in the areas of workforce, innovation, infrastructure, regulatory process, and capital. The discussion and findings will be summarized into recommendations that will inform the development of a regions-driven shared agenda for state action through the California Economic Summit process.

The event is one of 16 local forums taking place across California. The California Economic Summit uses a "triple-bottom-line" model based on economic, social and environmental factors that affect prosperity. Prosperity is defined as a function of good jobs, rising incomes, and community health. Good jobs offer opportunity for upward mobility. Rising incomes for all Californians demonstrates that prosperity is widely shared. Community health includes quality of place, health and environment. Maintaining and enhancing the productivity of natural resources - both as ecosystems and economic drivers - is key to maintaining California's vitality now and in the future.

With input from the San Diego region (which includes San Diego County and Imperial County) and the other regional forums, a steering committee will identify widely shared priorities and convene action teams to work on specific plans to address the priorities.

As part of the forum, a case study on the Sunrise Powerlink will be presented to illustrate how one project can impact job growth throughout an entire mega-region.

For more information about the California Economic Summit, see the San Diego Forum Briefing Book.

March 27, 2013

San Diego Regional EDC and a number of partners from industry organizations and private companies are working to attain status as a center of excellence (COE) for unmanned systems. San Diego is already well known for developing and manufacturing unmanned autonomous systems (UAS). The industry supports more than 7,000 jobs and accounts for more than 12 percent of all Department of Defense contracting activities in San Diego County, according to an industry report prepared by the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce. The report also concluded that the industry has the potential to double its economic impact over the next seven years. Recently, Northrop Grumman announced that the company would designate its Rancho Bernardo facility as their center of excellence for UAS development. The move is expected to bring an additional 300 jobs to the San Diego region.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued the request for information. They intend to designate six Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) test sites across the Continental United States in order to integrate UAS into national airspace.

The geographic area of the proposed site encompasses a vast area of land extending from Edwards Air Force Base and the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake south to the Mexican border and east to the Arizona border. The regional coalition includes San Diego Military Advisory Council, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, Imperial Valley EDC, County of Imperial, Holtville Airport in Imperial County, and defense contractors including General Atomics, Cubic, Epsilon Systems and Northrop Grumman. This group joined forces with the California Unmanned Air Systems Portal, based in Indian Wells in Riverside County, which enabled the proposal to include such a large area. The proposed test range region is geographically diverse, including airspace over mountain ranges, high and low desert, and the ocean.

About 40 applications have been submitted seeking to become one of the six test sites.

 

 

March 20, 2013

San Diego Regional EDC joined the City of San Diego and other organizations recently to officially introduce the new CONNECT2Careers program (formerly known as Hire-A-Youth). The City of San Diego made a $200,000 commitment last year so that the San Diego Workforce Partnership could rebuild the summer jobs program, which was threatened due to lack of funding. The redesigned program is focused on providing meaningful work experiences through paid summer internships to prepare San Diego’s young adults for the jobs of the future, while also addressing San Diego’s jobs skills gap.

One of the innovations in the new program is targeting specific industry clusters that have a significant need for young talent including:

Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals, Cleantech, Communication and Information Technologies, Tourism, Hotel/Motel, Defense, Maritime, Business, Government and Healthcare.

All of the organizations involved stressed the need for business community participation to make the program a success. San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner called on other council members to reach out to businesses in their respective districts to encourage them to participate in the program either through donations to support the program or by hiring at least one youth.

“CONNECT2Careers provides a way for businesses to give back while helping to train our emerging workforce, which is critical to growing our local economy,” Lightner said. “You simply can’t compete in the global economy if you don’t have a world-class workforce.”

The program, which is administered by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, will connect employers with pre-screened and motivated young adults ages 16 – 21 who have a strong career interest in one of the targeted industries. San Diego Workforce Partnership will provide pre-internship training and ongoing coordination and support throughout the selection, placement and work experience.

“As a region, our number one priority is job creation. By providing our emerging workforce with this opportunity, not only are we giving them the chance to hone their professional skills, but also feeding a talent pipeline that ensures San Diego remains competitive in the global economy,” said San Diego Regional EDC President and CEO Mark Cafferty. Cafferty has been involved in workforce issues for most of his career and was previously the President and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

San Diego Regional EDC has already agreed to host an intern for summer 2013.