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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Global Competitiveness: San Diego selected for Brooking’s FDI program

April 10, 2014

Brookings Panel in Seattle

 

San Diego is one of only six cities selected to participate in a new pilot program to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the region as part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the renowned Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.

San Diego joined Columbus, Minneapolis, Portland, San Antonio and Seattle in Seattle today to participate in the first working session, where leadership will collaborate with other regions to address the region’s foreign direct investment plan. San Diego’s team is made up of representatives from the City of San Diego, UC San Diego, JPMorgan Chase, Biocom, Qualcomm, GO-Biz and San Diego Regional EDC.

Foreign direct investment has long supported regional economies, not only by infusing capital, but also by investing in workers, strengthening global connections and sharing best business practices. As the world’s largest economy with a stable investment environment, the United States has been a top destination for foreign direct investment and San Diego is looking to ensure it pulls in a significant portion of this FDI.

In San Diego, many small and medium-sized enterprises have pushed their attention towards the issue of capital. As venture capitalists around the U.S. become more selective about companies they invest in, we must look for alternative solutions. FDI is one answer. Although FDI sounds like an elusive term, this means more capital flow to the region as well as more international attention paid to San Diego which has a strong economic payoff.   

Sean Barr, vice president of economic development at EDC, sat on panel today moderated by Amy Liu, senior fellow at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, which discussed establishing a region’s global identity. According to Brookings, “the most globally fluent metro areas demonstrate a combination of an appealing identity, high standards and reputation, and global relevance in specific markets.”

San Diego has many strengths, and one of our admitted struggles is that it’s difficult to form a distinct global identity when we have so many industries of which to be proud. We are home to a thriving biotech sector where companies like Illumina - dubbed the “World’s Smartest Company” - are based. We have a strong defense sector that is second to none. From our telecom industry to our sports innovation and algae biofuels cluster, the region is an innovation hub. One thing that Sean stressed during the panel is that although San Diego loves its sun, we need to be comfortable shedding our strict tourism message and moving beyond “sun and Shamu.” Working with the Brookings Institute to increase San Diego’s share of FDI is one way to do this.

As part of the pilot, San Diego will develop a foreign direct investment market assessment and plan, along with an implementation plan and a policy memo. This work, added to the region’s existing export plan, forms the second core component of a global engagement strategy that will strengthen the region's global economic connections and competitiveness.

San Diego is the only city in California selected for this pilot program and is one of only two cities in the program for which Brookings will be developing and publishing the complete FDI plan.

Here’s what some people are saying about the announcement:

  • City of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said: “San Diego’s strong ties to international markets, high-growth industries and culture of innovation mean we have the necessary ingredients to attract foreign direct investment to the region. I am honored Brookings selected San Diego for this pilot program and I look forward to working with the core team  to show that San Diego is open for business.”
     
  • Councilman Mark Kersey, fifth district, City of San Diego said: “San Diego is becoming start-up central and small-medium enterprises will benefit from a regional strategy for attracting foreign direct investment. I’d like to see more companies born global, attracting international investment and competing in worldwide markets.”
     
  • William Bold, senior vice president of government affairs of Qualcomm said:  “The highly educated work force, technology clusters, and location of San Diego already make it a thriving hub of the globalized economy. The Global Cities Initiative will only strengthen San Diego’s attractiveness to foreign investors looking for a solid innovation and high-technology track record. We’re delighted to help with an effort to share with the rest of the world the trade, talent and financial potential to be found here.”
     
  • Brennon Crist, JPMorgan Chase market manager for Middle Market/Commercial Banking in San Diego said: “We’re delighted that  San Diego will be a part of this new pilot – it’s exactly the kind of innovative planning that will ensure our community’s long-term economic success. We have a history of helping businesses connect to global markets and the Global Cities Initiative’s foreign direct investment work brings another level of depth to our region’s efforts to further create jobs, attract capital and grow our economy.”
     
  • Brad McDearman, Brookings fellow and director of metro trade and investment said: “For this pilot, we selected metro areas that are committed to attracting and leveraging foreign direct investment as part of a comprehensive global trade and investment strategy. The six metro areas selected for this round will be strong role models for other regions and represent a growing group of leaders who understand the need to embrace the global market to remain competitive in the 21st century economy.”
     
  •  Joe Panetta, president and CEO of Biocom said: “The region’s global mindset is apparent when you look at the thriving life sciences industry. Companies have long looked to San Diego for its world-class talent pool and abundant research opportunities. San Diego’s new collaboration with Brookings not only means that the region has opportunities to create more jobs, but also that we will be looked at as a role model for other areas looking to embrace the global economy.”