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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

San Diego’s Sports and Active Lifestyle Industry sets a rapid pace for growth

October 4, 2013


More than 80 business and industry leaders gathered at the Challenged Athletes Foundation to mark the launch of San Diego County's Sports and Active Lifestyle Cluster Report, which quantified the impact of the cluster for the first time. In order to celebrate the industry and learn about challenges, a panel of sports innovators and experts who included John Sarkisian of SKLZ, Peter Callstrom of San Diego Workforce Partnership, and Stephan Aarstol of Tower Paddle Boards, spoke about a variety of topics related to the cluster. Opening remarks from Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner emphasized the importance of the industry to both the region's economy and cultural identity. 

Funded by San Diego Workforce Partnership with assistance from San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and San Diego Sport Innovators, the study found that the economic impact of the region’s SAL cluster is equivalent to hosting four Super Bowls annually.
With more than 1,200 businesses representing approximately 23,000 employees, the industry’s presence on the regional economy adds $2.24 billion in economic activity annually. From 2012-2013, the employment in the sports and active lifestyle cluster outpaced that of the entire county, growing 3-5 percent in the SAL cluster, compared to 1-2 percent growth in San Diego County. Overall, the industry accounted for 1.3 percent of the region’s economy in 2011.
“With the release of the study, we have concrete data to talk about a growing industry that is an important part of San Diego’s story,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. “As home to the second highest concentration of sports and active lifestyle workers in the U.S., this economic driver has an important place in the region’s innovation economy.”
Home to miles of beaches and favorable weather, the study also concluded that San Diego’s natural assets are one of the reasons the region has excelled in forming this cluster.
“San Diego is every sports and active lifestyle company’s ideal location,” said Lisa Freedman, executive director of SD Sport Innovators. “While there are other important and larger verticals in San Diego, the sports and active lifestyle cluster is a very strong community where authenticity goes hand in hand with innovation. As a result, people around the globe not only purchase and use, but they also rely on products developed and manufactured right here in Southern California.”
As part of the workforce assessment, the study surveyed numerous local companies to determine their employment needs. With 32,407 jobs dependent upon sports, active lifestyle and recreation related activities, cultivating a strong workforce is essential to growing the industry.
“As a unified region, our goal is to forge partnerships with businesses, universities and government to ensure that companies continue to find the talent they need so the region can retain its share of the sports innovation industry, ” said Peter Callstrom, president and CEO of San Diego Workforce Partnership.
In order to continue grooming the industry for growth, the report concluded with recommendations for helping sports innovation companies thrive including supporting entrepreneurial skills and strengthening cross-border ties for manufacturing partnerships.
Check out the executive summary and complete study for more information. More pictures from the event can be found here

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