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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Project Scout: utilizing the cross-border story for business attraction

April 15, 2016

Over the past year, EDC has partnered with the Brookings Institute’s Bilateral Cities Exchange to refine the economic development approach between Tijuana and San Diego. In parallel, EDC’s recent engagement with the site selection industry through Explore San Diego – a tour hosted for 12 site selector consultants earlier this year – enabled our facilitation of a cross-border business attraction project that will provide jobs and investment on both sides of the border. Per terms of confidentiality, this project is being referred to as Project Scout.

During EDC’s inaugural Explore San Diego tour, we focused not only on success stories in San Diego, but highlighted companies who had set up operations on both sides of the border, including Thermo Fisher and BD. Although we frequently hear about cross-border collaboration in San Diego, we soon realized that it was a story that many outside the region – including these site selectors – hadn’t thought about; companies can easily do business on both sides of the border.

In early March, EDC received a request from an Explore San Diego attendee whose client was looking to scale manufacturing operations outside of its current high-cost pilot facility. Given the consultants’ recent exposure to the bi-national mega region, San Diego-Tijuana made the long list of 20 potential sites. In response, EDC provided data, real estate market figures and other strengths regarding our cross-border economy. Just two weeks later, a call came in that San Diego-Tijuana had made the top three, alongside North Carolina and Texas.

In a tour on behalf of Project Scout, EDC rallied the necessary business and political partners in order to put the region’s best foot forward – making the case for a cross-border operation. With partners including CaliBaja, city of San Diego, city of Tijuana, San Diego Mayor Faulconer, Tijuana EDC and UC San Diego, EDC showcased Tijuana’s dynamic manufacturing facilities. Here, the group shattered stereotypes by exposing not only the quality and efficiency of Tijuana manufacturing, but also the cross-border collaboration that makes our region so unique.

Project Scout ultimately chose to scale 80,000 square feet of manufacturing operations in San Diego-Tijuana – beating out North Carolina, Texas and other competitors. The local operation will provide jobs on both sides of the border beginning in August.

Stay tuned for more as Project Scout develops.