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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


August 2013

August 27, 2013

On the border of San Diego and Tijuana sits San Ysidro, the busiest land port of entry in the world. Every day, an astounding 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians wait in line to enter the U.S. One in eight people who cross into the country daily will do so via the San Ysidro Port of Entry. And that’s only one of California’s six ports of entry.

The border provides enormous economic opportunities for the region, but wait times are impeding our ability to harness this potential. Current infrastructure needs must be addressed. According to the San Diego Metropolitan Export Initiative: Market Assessment, San Ysidro is an “infrastructural bottleneck,” with many respondents citing difficulties with border crossing as a barrier to doing business in Mexico.  Even with the recent expansion of several border crossings, today’s average wait time sits at 70 minutes, translating into more than eight million trips lost due to congestion each year. In fact, more jobs are lost in San Diego every year to border congestion than the government’s recent budget sequestration.*

A new bill is trying to speed up border wait times. SB 397, sponsored by Sen. Ben Hueso (D- San Diego), calls for the creation of an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), which will permit carriers to use “Ready Lanes.” The technology in these new driver licenses, which will be issued by California’s DMV—eliminates the need to manually key –in travelers information, translating into a 60 percent faster processing time.

Several Canadian border states have successfully implemented EDLs and Arizona and Texas are working on instituting similar programs for our neighbors to the south.  

Although SB 397 is only a small part of a long string of reforms that are needed to expedite border crossing, it’s a step in the right direction. The San Diego region cannot afford to lose out on the $1.3 billion in revenue and $ 42 million in wages that dissipate due to border congestion every year. The border is one of the most unique aspects about the region. Companies including 3Drobotics and Aqualung don’t shy away from the fact that this is one of the reasons they are proud to call San Diego home. Through work with the CaliBaja Bi-National Mega-Region, EDC understands the fundamental necessity of teaming with Baja California, Mexico and Imperial County to the East.

Bottom line: the border means big business for the mega region. SB 397 is one step in helping us maximize our cross-border potential.

 

Sources:  AB 17, SB 397, SB 397 Fact Sheet

*Projected impact of sequestration was 10 percent of military personal across board in San Diego; Recent SDMAC report found that the military had  311,000 direct employees in the region, SDMAC Military Impact Report 2012

 


 

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August 19, 2013
This summer, EDC participated in Connect2Careers,a program that places young adults in summer internship programs across San Diego. Funded by the City of San Diego, the program works to address San Diego’s ongoing skills gap by providing meaningful summer work experiences that prepare young adults for in-demand jobs.
 
Before he heads back to school this fall, we gave our Intern Regan Pecjak one last assignment: reflect on his internship experience. Here’s what he had to say:
 
Supervisor Daichi Pantaleon with Regan PecjakWhen I began my internship at San Diego Regional EDC at the beginning of the summer I was in a position that I feel was representative of many San Diegans; I had only a vague idea of what economic development was and had absolutely no idea how it would pan out. The past weeks at EDC have given me an intimate understanding of both and provided me with an experience that I would have never had without the Connect2Careers program. 
 
Working at EDC has given me the opportunity to learn firsthand how the region is marketed to businesses and of the various efforts to expand the region’s economy. One of the major projects at EDC during my time here as the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Export Initiative. The plan is meant to address the under performance of San Diego’s international exports; despite having the 17th largest metro area population, San Diego’s export production ranks 55th. Sitting in these meetings gave me an in-depth understanding of the nature of some components of the region’s economy. 
 
Sitting in meetings and honing my office skills were not the only things I did; I really enjoyed the research assignments I was given. One of my favorite assignments involved researching incentives that US cities offer businesses to expand and relocate. It helped me understand what goes into creating a successful business climate and even got me thinking about some ideas that could potentially improve our own region!
 
After seven weeks at EDC, I’m happy to report that it’s been an invaluable experience. Working downtown provided me with access to key policy makers, as well as an informal network of economic development professionals. Within EDC’s walls, my co-workers were extremely cordial and were happy to talk with me. Thanks to the San Diego Regional EDC and the Connect2Careers program, I’ve had an excellent summer.  
 
Dec. 2013 update: EDC likes to keep in touch with interns following their experience to further help them on their professional paths. We're excited to share that Regan has been accepted early to Harvard. Although he is undecided on his major, he hopes to focus on economics and mathematics, while further exploring his interest in public service. Congratulations Regan!
 
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August 8, 2013
 Some have asked us to issue a formal statement on behalf of EDC celebrating the life of our dear friend Duane Roth. We believe that CONNECT, BIOCOM and others have already done so quite beautifully. So in a less formal fashion, I would like to share the following thoughts and reflections...
 
To try to write down what Duane Roth meant to San Diego Regional EDC, and our entire binational economic development community, is next to impossible. 
 
As most of you know, Duane was a longtime board member. He was our past chair. He was our partner on countless projects and our constant supporter behind the scenes. He was an incredible thinker. He was a visionary in the truest sense of the word. He was our motivator, our agitator and our confidant. But above all, he was our friend.
 
For me personally, having the opportunity to work so closely with Duane for the past 19 months has turned out to be a greater blessing than I could have ever imagined. Looking back, it seems as if Duane and I were doing something together just about every day.
 
We spoke on countless panels together--telling the story of our traded economies. We worked to create a collaborative economic development agenda for our organizations and our region. We planned meetings together. We supported each other's grant writing and fundraising efforts. We traveled together and lobbied together. And along the way, we spent a lot of time talking about our work, our economy and our community.
 
Duane changed the way we think and talk about San Diego. His personality and professional will made us bigger, stronger and better. He believed we were great and he made sure the world knew that. He used his influence to open doors, his intellect to create opportunities and his determination to earn broad-reaching respect and admiration. 
 
Duane always went about everything he did with a sense of importance and urgency. At times, none of us could move fast enough for him. In hindsight, it's almost as if he knew that he had very little time to waste. 
 
Like many, I will spend the days ahead thinking about what role I can play in carrying on his legacy. I will take the messages that I have heard him share with so many and ensure that I continue to share them with everyone I can. I will do my very best to see through the projects we started together and I will constantly try to do for others what Duane did for me. 
 
On Saturday, when I first learned that Duane had passed away, I immediately thought of a quote from John Steinbeck that I have always loved. It reads:
 
"It is so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone." 
 
As dark as it may seem today, I can't help but think of how lucky we all are for having shared this remarkable light.
 
I will never forget Duane.  I will never forget what he shared with me and what he taught me. And in saying goodbye, I can only think of the words of the Irish Blessing I learned as a child: "...until we meet again, may God always hold you in the palm of His hand."
 
With deep sorrow and enduring hope, 
 
Mark