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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


best practices

September 29, 2017

Last week, members of the EDC team joined 20 board members, investors and partners on a trip to Louisville, Kentucky. The purpose was to learn about that city’s emphasis on inclusion and compassion as focal points for their branding and economic development efforts. We met passionate people—both in the private and public sectors—who are working hard to create a community that is uniquely Louisville.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer set the tone when he welcomed our group Wednesday evening and stayed to talk with us about Louisville’s past, its present challenges and the city’s goals around lifelong learning, health and compassion. Louisville’s challenges are significant, but they do not shy away from talking about them openly. And there is a genuine continuity to how people raise, speak about and confront these issues.

Research and workforce representatives presented hard-hitting data on the region’s existing economic disparities, as well as ambitions to add 55,000 degrees over a ten year span. The city’s economic development team and business leaders explained how the region has to work harder than most to attract and retain talent, and showcase their region as a place that is ripe for investment and growth—despite having 30,000 current job openings and being among the most affordable of large metros.

Many of the challenges that they face today stem from events that happened generations ago. But they embrace their past with the belief that they can’t chart where they are going if they ignore where they have been. Addressing a history of racial segregation, poverty and stagnant population growth are as much a part of their economic development discussion and focus as attraction, retention and expansion. The authenticity that was threaded throughout our visit culminated in an honest dialogue among our delegation.

San Diego’s Story

Back home, San Diego has experienced solid economic growth, led by its innovation industries, which have added jobs three times faster the overall economy1. However, this prosperity has not been shared by all San Diegans. A recent study found that there are more than one million people in our region with incomes too low to afford basic costs of living—the numbers are even more appalling for our black and Latino populations.

In San Diego Latinos represent one-third of the population, and are projected to be the majority by 20302. Yet only 17 percent have completed a bachelor’s degree program or higher3. Meanwhile our region has a deficit of 4,500 STEM graduates4. But talent shortages exist in every metro area—our population is our talent pool.

And while we have large employers in our region that are the vanguard of innovation, 59 percent of our workforce is employed by smaller firms that often pay below average wages5. Layer on the fact that San Diego has the second highest median home price and is the fourth most expensive metro to live in6, and you quickly see the risks to our competitiveness as a region.

We spent the past six months working with key partners to develop our story and better understand our own regional challenges. And in the coming weeks we will reassemble our delegation, as well as business and community leaders, to build an economic development agenda that benefits more people, companies and communities: an agenda that grows our own talent, bolsters small- and medium-sized firm growth, and addresses the cost of living pressures on talent attraction and retention.

There is a lot of work to be done, and it will require great collaboration and coordination. Our mission at EDC is to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. To live up to that mission our economic development strategies must promote and account for growth and inclusion.

Click here for an EDC-produced research profile on the Louisville and San Diego economies.

Footnotes

1.      U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006-2015.

2.      American Community Survey, 2016; SANDAG population projections.

3.      American Community Survey, 2016.

4.      EMSI, 2017.2.

5.      Firms with fewer than 100 people; CA EDD Business Statistics, 2015.

6.      Among 50 most populous metros; National Association of Realtors, 2017; C2ER, 2017; EMSI, 2017.3.

August 17, 2017

In partnership with the Cyber Center of Excellence and SPAWAR, EDC coordinated a two-day tour for 40 DoD Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from the U.S. and allied nations. The tour is part of an annual best practices trip led by the U.S. to help military and intelligence agency CIOs learn about new commercial technologies in cyber, artificial intelligence, machine learning and nanotechnology. This was the first time that this group has selected San Diego for a best practices trip, typically traveling to Silicon Valley, Boston and New York instead.

The San Diego tour kicked off with an hour and half long conversation hosted at Qualcomm by their CEO Steve Mollenkopf, discussing the impacts of 5G technology. This was followed by a whirlwind of technical presentations from local companies AttackIQ, Qubitekk, Websense, Illumina, FICO, KnuEdge and iboss along with leadership from UC San Diego. Several companies who presented are now working on new projects with key agencies as a direct result of this trip.

August 22, 2016

Every so often San Diego Regional EDC takes an influential group of civic leaders to a peer city to better understand its economic development best practices and bring ideas back home to replicate. This time, we're headed to Nashville, Tennessee to find out what America’s Finest City learn from the Music City. In preparation for the October trip, EDC recently sent a team down south to scout meetings and spokespeople who can speak to philosophies and best practices that have served Nashville well. Here are just a few topics on the upcoming trip agenda:
 
  • First, it’s clear that Nashville mayoral leadership has consistently focused on education, public safety and economic development over a number of administrations.
  • Second, Nashville has made investments to make the City a premier destination. Nashville has built arenas now home to pro football and pro hockey franchises, constructed a new home for the Country Music Hall of Fame, and opened a new downtown convention center, as well as the Frist Center for Visual Arts - all of which has occurred in the past 20 years. The City is now making a bid for a major league soccer team.   
  • The City is also focused on regionalism – the collaboration between area government bodies for the overall good of the region. The Nashville mayor not only oversees the City but also Davidson County, an area about twice the size with half the population of San Diego County. Streamlining government processes and policies has improved development services and transportation infrastructure planning. 
  • In a timely response to President Obama’s call for honest conversations about race relations in communities across America, Mayor Megan Barry is partnering with Lipscomb University's College of Leadership & Public Service and others to host forums with the community to address race, equity and leadership in the Nashville community.
 
Mayor Barry and an outstanding group of civic leaders have committed to speak to our San Diego delegation next month. Learn more about the trip details and agenda topics here. If interested in participating, contact Raquel Elbachri for more information.