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Today, San Diego Mayor Faulconer announced The City of San Diego has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment to support the resiliency and growth of local defense contractors.
The City of San Diego and key partners, including San Diego Regional EDC, County of San Diego, San Diego Military Advisory Council, East County Economic Development Corporation and South County Economic Development Corporation – collectively named Propel San Diego – will deploy programs to support the region’s defense ecosystem.
Leveraging the grant, the Propel San Diego team will concentrate on economic development strategies for companies expanding in or at risk of leaving the region. As part of this work, Propel San Diego will create a database of all defense firms in San Diego County and deploy an interactive tool to explain and model changes in defense spending activity.
Home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world, San Diego’s economy is inextricably linked to the national defense ecosystem. According to SDMAC, the total economic impact of the defense industry is nearly $45 billion.
Defense-related organizations are as diverse as San Diego’s key industries and include companies specializing in aerospace, maritime, unmanned vehicles, robotics, autonomous systems, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing and more.
Leveraging DoD support, Propel San Diego programs aim to help San Diego retain highly-skilled talent and create increased stability for defense companies in an increasingly uncertain defense budget world.
Propel San Diego sentiments:
For more information, visit OEA.gov.
By Jesse Gipe, manager, economic development
In partnership with more than a dozen organizations across San Diego County including the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC), EDC has established Operation San Diego, a strategy to support our military and defense assets in the region. As part of these efforts, I had the opportunity to attend the largest gathering of senior military officials ever hosted by the Governor’s Military Council (GMC) earlier this week. The two-day Defense Summit provided military leaders, support organizations, state agencies and elected officials an opportunity to discuss how to address some of the critical needs of bases and the personnel they house.
While in San Diego it can be hard to forget the impact of our military in our day to lives – with a $45 billion impact to our GRP – other areas in California do not share our military concentration. Recognizing the need for a strong voice from California in support of the military, and through efforts led by both SDMAC and EDC, Governor Brown established the GMC. The all-volunteer board members of the GMC form an impressive roster of retired flag officers from every branch of the DoD and Coast Guard. This group of well-respected former military leaders have answered the Governor’s call to serve on the council and lend their collective expertise to ensure that California is proactively supporting the military in DC and at the state level.
Kicking off two days of activities, the GMC hosted their quarterly board meeting attended by Governor Brown on Tuesday. The council, led by Chair Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, discussed the GMC’s strategy to support bases and personnel in California.
After the GMC’s board meeting, nearly 40 active duty commanders and military personnel including some of the state's most senior commanders such as Brigadier General Edward Banta, Commander of Marine Corp Installations West and a strong contingent from Navy Region Southwest flew in to participate in a full day of workshops on Wednesday. In addition to the military leadership approximately 50 individuals from base support organizations such as SDMAC’s Executive Director Randy Bogle and other key agencies like SANDAG were also in attendance.
The workshops were designed to help bases and the communities supporting them identify solutions to address several common issues. These issues primarily revolve around the military’s needs for reliable and secure energy, the impact of the drought on water reliability, the demand for new creative funding partnerships to address budget shortfalls caused in part by sequestration, and of course how to help service members transition back into civilian life.
This message has certainly resonated with Governor Brown, who reiterated the significant role of the military in his remarks to the GMC: “There is a very important connection, because without the defense contracts, the aerospace contracts in California wouldn't be where it is today.” Military bases across California not only continue to provide vital national security missions for the United States; they have been pivotal in the establishment of some of our state's most vibrant industries. Most notably, of course, would be aerospace, but bases like SPAWAR in San Diego have created groundbreaking technologies such as radar, that have helped spur commercial innovation in a wide variety of industries.
Events like this provide unique value for San Diego as we strive to maintain and enhance what has always been one of our region’s critical economic and cultural pillars: the military. EDC will continue to work closely with the GMC, regional partners including SDMAC, the State of California and in Washington DC to make sure that as our region continues to support the military.
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 handful 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.
Many people recognize the importance of the defense sector in protecting us internationally, but fail to recognize that it also protects the local economy. From Qualcomm to essential innovation research, the defense sector has been instrumental in jump-starting many economic facets that make us proud to call San Diego home.
Not only do recent DoD cuts mean thousands of jobs at stake in various industries in the local economy, but also mean that this ‘quality of life’ that we have worked so hard to build is in jeopardy.
Please read Mark’s column in the U-T to learn about some of the steps EDC and regional partners are taking to defend this vital facet of our economy.