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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Operation San Diego

March 17, 2017

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:

  • “San Diego is proud of its military roots and our defense industry plays an integral role in our local economy,” Mayor Faulconer said“This grant will help support our local defense contractors so they can keep creating the kind of good-paying jobs San Diegans deserve.”
  • “From Qualcomm’s mobile technology to Cubic’s smart card systems and ViaSat’s broadband satellites, some of the world’s most game-changing technology is rooted in San Diego’s defense industry. Supporting the commercialization and visibility of the region’s defense-related firms, small and large, is critical to economic growth. The OEA grant and Propel San Diego collaborative enables us to do just that,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC.
  • “The Propel San Diego initiative and OEA funding will enable a complete technology refresh of East County Economic Development Council‘s Connectory.com Network, an online resource that contains detailed capabilities profiles of industrial and technology companies across all industries,” said Joe Mackey, chair of the East County EDC board and CEO of XL Staffing and XL Security. “An upgraded Connectory that takes advantage of big data analytics will allow Propel San Diego to understand and track the wide, deep and diverse defense supply chain resident in the San Diego region, now and into the future.”
  • “SDMAC is honored and excited to be a recipient of the OEA grant. We look forward to playing a key role in facilitating the exchange of contractual information that will keep business in the San Diego region,” said Randy Bogle, executive director of San Diego Military Advisory Council.


For more information, visit OEA.gov.

February 14, 2017
This weekend, years of hard work came to life for BAE Systems and partners across the state as the Barrio Logan-based shipyard cut the ribbon on its new dry dock, the Pride of California.
 
At 950 feet long and capable of lifting nearly 55,000 tons, the dry dock is the largest in California and the third largest in the nation. Used for ship repair and construction, the dry dock is flooded to allow watercraft to float in and then drained so watercraft can be set on a dry platform for work.
 
EDC board member and BAE Vice President Bob Koerber joined Congressman Scott Peters, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Port Chairman Robert “Dukie” Valderrama and an audience of more than 150 senior military personnel for the event inside the dry dock’s 100-foot walls. The dry dock was shipped across the Pacific Ocean on a 7,000 mile, 60-day journey. It represents approximately $100 million in infrastructure investment from BAE to increase the shipyard's capacity to meet the growing needs of the U.S. Navy.  
 
BAE currently employs 2,000 workers in San Diego, with the dry dock anticipated to add more jobs over the next several years. BAE is a critical pillar of San Diego’s working waterfront, where the shipbuilding and ship repair industry employs approximately 12,000 San Diegans and has an economic impact of $1.75 billion annually throughout the county.
 
EDC was proud to support this monumental engineering project by working directly with BAE to craft a competitive application for the Cal Competes Tax Credit program, which they ultimately won. Awarded in 2015, BAE's $1.55 million tax credit supports the shipyards ability to remain competitive and continue to invest in their yard and workforce. 
 
With the rebalance to the Pacific, the U.S. Navy’s presence in San Diego will continue to grow dramatically over the next several years. The challenges associated with this growth include the ability for local industry to service, build, upgrade and repair the equipment for the influx of U.S. Navy vessels. With President Trump calling for the Navy to increase its current fleet to 350 ships, San Diego will be on the receiving end of increased spending.
 
September 28, 2016
In the midst of one of the most interesting presidential elections in many of our lifetimes, the importance of maintaining close ties with the decision makers in Washington DC becomes increasingly important – most especially for our military community. That is in part why, for the last several years, EDC and the San Diego Military Advisory Council have attended the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual trip to DC in order to lead the military and defense track. 
 
This year, with the support of Chamber staff and SDMAC Executive Director Randy Bogle, EDC discussed national security implications of TPP with thought leaders from the Trumann Foundation, ways our healthcare institutions and life sciences companies can better partner with the incoming commander of Navy Medicine West, key legislative priorities for 2017 with our congressional delegation and the future possibility of BRAC with experts from Dentons. 
 
This trip gave us the opportunity to not only expand and build relationships with key decision makers, but to give a broader audience from the Chamber a chance to hear about the leading issues impacting the region’s military.  
 
When the dust settles come November 9, whether Trump or Hillary is our next Commander in Chief, EDC – alongside regional peers – will continue to ensure that San Diego’s interests are well understood and represented in at our nation's capital.  
 
September 15, 2016
The City of San Diego has been awarded $1.6 million grant by the Department of Defense to craft programs designed to enhance the resiliency of the region’s defense industrial base. As part of this grant, EDC’s research team will be responsible for conducting a county-wide supply chain mapping and economic impact study in order to arm the region with the foundational data necessary to inform the creation of effective programming. 
 
Why this matters?
The region has long benefited from strong defense companies who employ tens of thousands of San Diegans in a wide variety of industries including satellite communications, ship building, autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity and many more. 
 
We know San Diego is a hub of innovation for globally impactful defense technology, but it can at times be forgotten how these defense companies have evolved their defense expertise to transform commercial markets. Companies like ViaSat and Cubic Corporation – who started by innovating secure satellite communications and creating world-class training technologies – have grown to become major players in satellite internet technology and transportation management. 
 
The OEA grant will enable us to assess and create the tools necessary to help defense companies diversify their innovative technologies and services into commercial markets. 
 
Home to the highest concentration of military in the world, the OEA grant will ensure the City and regional peers continue to think creatively about how we leverage defense innovation to create more jobs and a more resilient economy.  
 
May 17, 2016

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.  

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. 

February 3, 2013

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.