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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

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.

 

 

 

March 12, 2013

175 projects. 6, 215 jobs. What a year 2012 was. Check out our annual report, detailing some some of the highlights and programs from last year.

To all of our investors, partners and the rest of the San Diego business community, thank you for helping us carry out EDC’s mission is to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. 

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March 12, 2013

Malin Burnham, Irwin Jacobs and Ernest Rady recently had a chat about the future of San Diego in front of the 700 people attending USD’s Annual Burnham Moores Real Estate Conference. One idea in particular, that San Diego can become the medical center of the Southwest US, has all the characteristics of an achievable dream: the right target, a solid foundation of resources, and current growth that can propel the idea to reality.

These men put their philanthropy behind the key ingredients needed to build a medical powerhouse. The Burnham, Rady and Jacobs names can be found on research institutes (Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute), state-of-the-art existing healthcare centers (Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego), and the emerging UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center which envisions putting “the world’s best medical care in our backyard.”

Combine this medical research and clinical infrastructure with San Diego’s developing wireless health sector and you’ve got a compelling vision for future economic growth based around healthcare. For example, Qualcomm Life, a Qualcomm company, is working on device connectivity and data management to enable medical device manufacturers to deliver wireless health applications quickly and easily to those who need it.

Health services already employ 10 percent of San Diego’s workforce – including 7,000 physicians. Current employment numbers for healthcare in the region do not include life sciences or wireless health. As biotech, information technology and health service delivery increasingly intersect, employment in this super-sector will become an even more central economic driver. To prepare for the future, major healthcare construction projects are underway in the region. The four largest projects account for nearly $1.5 billion in contracts and 14,000 onsite jobs.

In addition to Rady Children’s Hospital and UC San Diego Health System, San Diegans have a range of choices for healthcare including Scripps Health, Sharp HealthCare, and Kaiser Permanente. What will drive national and international interest and demand is the growing number of nationally ranked specialties. Currently, UC San Diego Medical Center has nationally ranked specialties in Pulmonology, Nephrology, Geriatrics, and Urology. Scripps La Jolla Hospitals and Clinics have national rankings in Cardiology and Heart Surgery.

 

March 4, 2013

CaliBaja MegaRegion

How many positive articles about Mexico does it take to confirm a trend? Three seems about right, but add in a major think tank calling 2013/2014 the “Year of Mexico,” and you’ve got a full-fledged movement going on.

First came Chris Anderson’s New York Times opinion piece titled “Mexico: The New China,” where he describes his cross-border company 3D Robotics. With facilities in both San Diego and Tijuana he is able to do what he calls “quicksourcing,” where the short supply chain between the two locations enables the company to innovate faster and control inventory more efficiently. Anderson, who was the editor of Wired before he left to join 3D Robotics full time, compares the Hong Kong and Shenzhen special economic zone of the late 1990s and early 2000s to today’s experience working between San Diego and Tijuana. “The sense of possibility I felt when I first crossed from Hong Kong to Shenzhen in 1997 is what I now feel when I cross from San Diego to Tijuana,” said Anderson.

Flat-worlder Thomas Friedman weighed in from Monterrey, Mexico on “How Mexico Got Back in the Game,” with stats on Mexico’s trade with the U.S. – a staggering $1.5 billion a day. Friedman cites The Financial Times reporting that Mexico has signed 44 trade agreements, which is more than any country in the world, and exports more manufactured products than the combined exports of all other Latin American countries. “Better integration of Mexico’s manufacturing and innovation prowess into America’s is a win-win. It makes U.S. companies more profitable and competitive, so they can expand at home and abroad, and it gives Mexicans a reason to stay home and reduces violence,” wrote Friedman.

Violence is where USA Today’s article “Mexico’s commerce crawls back from drug war’s chaos,” started – but the story focused on the fact that border violence has been dropping steadily in the last year –  quoting a study from the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute citing that organized crime-related murder in Mexico dropped 21 percent in 2012. In Mexico’s six border states the drop was a dramatic 32 percent.  San Diego Regional EDC’s Christina Luhn, who leads the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region initiative, worked closely with the reporters and introduced them to people on both sides of the border.

EDC Vice President Sean Barr was in Washington DC last week for meetings at the Brookings Institution regarding their Metropolitan Export Exchange program where teams of metropolitan leaders are working on developing Metropolitan Export Plans to improve their global trade strategies so the nation can remain a center of growth and innovation for years to come. At the meeting Brookings announced that 2013/14 will be the “Year of Mexico.” According to Barr, the ongoing reshoring and nearshoring trends have attracted their attention. Their effort will start with an in-depth study of US-Mexico supply chains.  “The Mega-Region Initiative is of considerable interest to them,” he told the EDC team.

Let’s make sure it’s really the year of cross-border progress.

 

March 1, 2013

A message from Mark Cafferty

 
As you are aware, the law of sequestration will likely take effect today. The result – essentially a 10 percent across-the-board cut of all federal programs, projects and activities – will bring a dense rolling wave of financial implications for our region.
 
The impact to our military economy is significant. The impact to our innovation economy is troubling. The impact to our tourism economy compounds the problem we already have with the region’s TMD standoff. Effects throughout the local economy will be felt in the coming months and thousands of jobs are at risk, quickly making this a harsh reality for families and businesses across the region.
 
These cuts have the potential to set back medical research and our innovative economy by a generation or more, according to former NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni. Imagine all that will be lost – life-altering innovations, technological breakthroughs, not to mention jobs and businesses. There will be immediate impacts, for sure. We’re already seeing some. But the long-term effect – the slow and steady burn – is what really has the potential to hurt San Diego most. 
 
Our partner Larry Blumberg, Executive Director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC), put it this way: “Defense contractors are going to be the first ones let go — and we know some of them are already starting to receive pink slips. In mid-April, the Department of Defense is going to furlough civil servants one day a week. This would impact 25,000 San Diegans, and a day’s pay for each of them is a lot of money to take out of the local economy.”
 
Just this past Tuesday, EDC received notice from GD NASSCO that the company has informed 1,040 employees in San Diego, Norfolk and Mayport that layoff notices would likely be issued in early April. Notices from BAE, Continental Maritime and other shipbuilders also have been received by our office over the past month totaling an additional 1,321 job losses. The job numbers are real and estimated to total more than 5,500 in the shipbuilding industry alone.  
 
It’s also worth noting that sequestration is only one of the challenges coming out of Washington.  We face additional threats in the weeks ahead.
 
On March 27th, the current continuing resolution (CR), the mechanism through which the federal government draws funds it needs to operate, will expire. A federal government shutdown is on the horizon without a new CR in place before the end of March.
 
At some point toward the end of March, President Obama is expected to deliver a budget for fiscal year 2014. Based on everything we are hearing in Washington, I believe a request for another round of base realignment and closures (BRAC) will likely be included within that 2014 budget.
 
On May 19th, the current debt ceiling will be reached, which represents an unprecedented fourth fiscal event in three months with serious implications for the country and San Diego’s economy.
 
There is plenty our region must do. EDC, SDMAC, the Chamber of Commerce, CONNECT, BIOCOM and other partners are ramping up efforts in Washington, Sacramento and throughout the region to ensure that our military and innovation economies are protected. We thank you all for your interest and support to date. As always, we will work to keep you informed of both the implications and challenges we face, along with our plans for addressing them in the weeks ahead. 
 
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February 28, 2013

If you ask most U.S. sports fans to identify the fiercest rivalry in professional sports, many would quickly say, “Yankees and Red Sox.” Fans for both teams are incredibly loyal, united both in their regional pride and mutual distaste for the competition. But when you look closer at the actual numbers, it isn’t really a rivalry at all…in the past century, New York has clenched 27 World Series compared to four for Boston.

As a native Bostonian (side note: he now considers himself a proud San Diegan), Mark made it clear today at a breakfast forum hosted by the San Diego Press Club that this is very similar to California’s “rivalry” with Texas. In this scenario, California is the New York of job creation. Although both sides may have loyal contenders, when you look at the success Texas has had poaching jobs from the Golden State, there is no comparison. The numbers speak for themselves. California is leading the nation in private sector job creation. It is No. 1 in biotech, agriculture, high tech, entertainment and tourism.

As California and San Diego continue to face criticism from out-of-state politicians, the press and others for its “anti-business” policies, we must remember one critical fact. Time and time again, studies have shown that short-term economic incentives do nothing for long-term job growth. Yes, it’s fair to say that California could benefit from more business-friendly policies, but in San Diego, our traded economies –– military, tourism and innovation – are anchors for our growing economy.

All of that said, Mark told s crowd of about 40 local business leaders today, it’s not Gov. Perry’s $24K media buy that worries us, but some actual reforms/legislation (or lack thereof) that does:

●     TMD controversy— Removing ourselves from the legal side of this battle, we are looking at the sheer importance of these dollars for regional economic development. San Diego’s tourism industry is responsible for $18.3 billion in economic impact and employs 160,000 San Diegans. In 1993, Colorado eliminated its TMD, resulting in a 30 percent drop in its share of the U.S. travel market over four years.

●     Enterprise Zone Reforms—Although poaching jobs from other states and grandiose economic incentives don’t help long term growth, the EZ is a powerful growth tool for California helping companies like Soitec and the Wheat Group.

●     Sequestration/ Military Cuts—With the highest concentration of military in the world and 60 percent of California’s military assets, sequestration will be a devastating blow to San Diego’s economy, with approximately 30,000 jobs at stake. Many people also don’t realize the impact it would have on the high-tech and life sciences industries as well.

As Mark told the Press Club at the New School of Architecture + Design, at San Diego Regional EDC, our job is to attract, retain and expand businesses in the region. Everything we do, whether it’s advocating for certain policies or implementing strategic programs, is to grow jobs across the region.

And create jobs we do! In 2012, San Diego Regional EDC worked on 175 projects, creating 8,550 jobs in the region.

In addition to releasing the job numbers today, Mark stressed that San Diego needs to do more promoting and less comparing. Too often, San Diegans get caught up in comparisons with New York, Chicago, San Francisco and other great cities instead of focusing on the fact that San Diego is one of the very best places in the world for families and businesses.

He closed with one wish for San Diego: “gaining a little bit of confidence and whole lot of swagger.”

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February 26, 2013

Mayor Bob Filner was the SD Press Club's first Newsmaker of 2013; Mark Cafferty will be its second. Join the San Diego business and journalism community for a breakfast this Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 a.m. Mark will provide new EDC updates including the recent successes the organization has had generating and maintaining jobs throughout the region. He also will tell you how he really feels about attempts to lure businesses from California to Texas, and you'll get the latest update on efforts in Washington to curtail across-the-board budget cuts (known as Sequestration) scheduled to take effect Friday. You won't want to miss it.

Everyone is welcome! Please find more details and RSVP here

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