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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


WTC San Diego

April 15, 2016

Joining forces to make a binational push to promote innovation, trade and jobs within the San Diego-Tijuana Mega Region, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazarán welcomed more than 50 high-level leaders from Brazil, Mexico, Canada and South Korea and other countries from across the globe to San Diego for the Fifth Americas Competiveness Exchange (ACE V).

Organized by the World Trade Center San Diego, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Organization of American States, ACE V – a three-day tour of San Diego – made stops at iboss, Qualcomm, UC San Diego and more. As part of the visit, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the participating countries signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to support initiatives that promote trade and investment partnerships, stimulate job creation and eliminate barriers to commerce.

“We’re proud of the role that we’re playing in fostering innovation, collaboration and technology. It’s part of the DNA of what’s happening here in San Diego,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “This is in fact part of what I think makes this region special, when we talk about the relationship that we have for investment, for our business communities, for our start-up communities. You will not find a region that collaborates better than this region.”

February 23, 2016

By Mark Cafferty, President & CEO

Kia ora!

Just back from a long trip to Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. I wanted to share some updates and observations from my time representing EDC and marketing our region to our friends Down Under and in the City of Sails.

Unlike many of my recent international trips, I spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks engaging with our economic development peers at the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development agency (ATEED) and the leadership of the Committee for Sydney – two very different and interesting models in two very different and interesting cities. EDC’s relationships with these highly regarded organizations have been continually strengthened and enhanced through our work with JPMorgan Chase and Brookings Institute. Our colleague Greg Clark from Brookings was especially instrumental in setting up several of these meetings over the course of my trip.

Most exciting for me to see was the buzz EDC’s work has created over the past few years. Both the ATEED and the Committee for Sydney were familiar with our research and gave high praise to our work with the region’s traded clusters. Quite surprisingly, the organizations knew about our transition away from politics/policy over the last four years and praised EDC for being a leader in redefining regional economic development through a collaborative, employer-led approach – a strategy that has served us well.

In Auckland, they are building a "sports and active lifestyle" sector strategy based on the research EDC conducted a few years ago in partnership with San Diego Sports Innovators. They have also analyzed our export strategy and Go Global efforts, and are working to mirror several of our programs/initiatives – now spearheaded by the WTC San Diego housed within EDC.

In Sydney, the highly influential Committee for Sydney was excited about what they have seen/read regarding our collaboration with Mayor Faulconer's office. Specifically, they are hoping to set up a video conference in May with their business and political leadership in Sydney to hear about the "San Diego Story" from the Mayor and the EDC team. From there they are hoping to open the door to a large-scale trade/investment mission in 2017. Stay tuned...

Along the way I also had a fantastic meeting with Baseball New Zealand set up through the San Diego Padres, meetings with the airline industry set up by our colleagues at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and continued engagement with leadership from two of our greatest San Diego/Sydney business connections: Cubic and ResMed. Lastly, I met with an Auckland-based VC firm who will likely be visiting businesses in San Diego within the next few months.

As always, San Diego’s universities, world renowned research institutions, biotech industry, defense technology and proximity to Mexico dominated conversations throughout the course of my trip. And with international commerce opportunities increasing and expanding through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), everyone I spoke with saw San Diego's geography, entrepreneurship and economic diversity as key assets for expanded international trade and investment.

But what was incredible to see was how much better San Diego's economic story was understood and appreciated in comparison to my first visit to Auckland and Sydney just two years ago.

With and through our partners/investors, EDC is successfully placing San Diego on the radar of international businesses, investors and thought leaders across the world. The National Geographic Smart Cities documentary and our work with Brookings and JPMorgan Chase have a lot to do with this, but so does the hard work of our economic development team, the outstanding research we have been producing and the creative way in which our marketing team is framing our work and telling our story. For that, we have nobody to thank more than our board members and investors whose leadership, guidance, support, direction and vision are helping to change the way the world sees our region and our economy. And the best is yet to come.

A fascinating person I met with during this trip told me that an old Australian Aboriginal Proverb states:

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love...and then we return home."

Thank you for sharing this time and place with us, and thank you for continuing to support our efforts to observe, learn and grow. 

February 4, 2016
By Nikia Clarke, director of World Trade Center San Diego
 
Konichiwa from Osaka!
 
Given the deep linkages between our regions, it is fitting that the World Trade Center San Diego 2016 calendar of trade and investment activities begins with a targeted focus on Japan. Sean Barr sent his reflections from Tokyo last week, where he was supporting a UC San Diego Technology Symposium and representing our region at an international nanotechnology and robotics show.
 
And this week I am traveling across the country with SelectUSA, the federal government’s foreign investment attraction agency. Japan is the second largest source of foreign direct investment to the United States, and more than 800,000 Americans are employed by US subsidiaries of Japanese firms. San Diego is a microcosm of this larger relationship, with companies like Takeda, Kyocera, Ajinomoto, and Murata employing thousands of San Diegans.  
 
On Monday we kicked off the Roadshow in Tokyo with HE Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador to Japan; Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Select USA Executive Director; and Mr. Tatsuhiro Shindo, Executive Vice President of JETRO for the signing of an historic MOI. We then moved on to Nagoya and Osaka, meeting with groups of potential investors at each stop.  
 

Representatives from the head offices of Japanese companies that have made long term investments in our region joined me on the road. Their eagerness to support our efforts here and tell their own San Diego story to their peers is a testament to the deep ties between our two economies.
 
In Tokyo, Toshitake Kobayashi from Takeda Pharmaceuticals joined me to speak to the group of 200 potential investors about how collaboration between Takeda California and Takeda Japan drives innovation in drug discovery for the firm as a whole. This is why Takeda closed its Bay Area facility and consolidated operations in San Diego. Takeda is Asia’s largest drug manufacturer, employing more than 30,000 people worldwide.
 
This emphasis on innovation was echoed by Naoki Sekizawa from Denso, a global manufacturer of parts and technology for every major auto maker from Toyota to GM. He explained to a group of 60 investors in Nagoya that Denso’s operations in Vista – located along the 78 corridor – remain the multinational’s North American research headquarters because of the talented workforce available in ‘telecom valley.’ 
 
Naoki Mori, from Nitto Denko, a water technology company that acquired Oceanside firm Hydranautics in 1987, joined me in Osaka to share his perspective on the advantages of our region. He emphasized the premier universities and research institutions as we spoke to another packed room of over 100 investors interested in the US market. 
 
Three companies from diverse industries delivering the same message: San Diego’s innovation ecosystem – with its strong research institutions and top-tier talent - is a world-class asset. And yet, it is clear that in terms of maximizing these assets, we could be doing more. Out of over a dozen states and metros participating in the roadshow, San Diego is the only one without a Japan trade office staffed with dedicated investment personnel. 
 
Our investors and partners have done tremendous work over the last few years to generate a comprehensive trade and investment plan for the region. And our Port, Airport and City are driving the execution of that plan through the revitalization of World Trade Center San Diego. That kind of regional coalition building is both rare and formidable, and for that we are grateful. 
 
So you will be hearing much more about Japan in the coming months, as we prepare to host several incoming delegations of Japanese companies in advanced industries. And you will also be hearing from Auckland, Sydney, London, Toulon, and Stockholm, as we work to grow exports to, investment from, and relationships with the markets that matter most to San Diego’s growth, prosperity and resilience.
 
Big thanks and kanpai to the San Diego leadership of Takeda, Denso, and Hydranautics for coordinating support on the road, and for the language lessons too.
 

January 28, 2016

By Sean Barr, senior vice president of economic development

Greetings from Tokyo, Japan. This week, behind a newly relaunched World Trade Center San Diego, EDC kicks off its 2016 international program. Our goals are clear – grow exports and position the region as a choice location for investment and science and technology partnerships.  

I am here in Tokyo the next few days with the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. From day one, we were met with great enthusiasm for expanded partnerships with the University of Tokyo, University of Osaka, and private industry leaders such as Mitsui, Honda and the Japan Venture Capital Association, to name a few.

Japan represents San Diego's largest trade and investment market, making the relationship key to our economic growth. Tokyo alone accounts for nearly 25 percent of all foreign owned establishments in the region. With operations in San Diego, Japanese companies such as Kyocera International, Sony, Ajinomoto, and Takeda are some of the most active and community-minded companies, employing hundreds of San Diegans. Japan leads the way as an export market, consistently ranking among the top five most important markets for San Diego. From water technology, to microelectronics, to tourism, to telecommunications to renewable energy and craft beer, Japan punches way above its weight in the consumption of San Diego products and services. 

The relationship, however, is not one-sided. A number of organizations in San Diego have long recognized the importance of Japan to our economy, with some committing to a fulltime presence abroad, including Biocom, the San Diego Tourism Authority, the San Diego International Airport, the Port of San Diego, SDSU and of course, UC San Diego. We are looking to build on, amplify and support their work to advance the region's trade interests. 

Leading with our universities and science and engineering talent, San Diego is successfully attracting attention to our global innovation economy. In partnership with Al Pisano, Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, EDC co-hosted a symposium this week for more than 30 Japanese investors. As investors traveled from Osaka, Kyoto, and throughout Tokyo to attend, it was evident that San Diego’s technology and engineering prowess has garnered global attention, with many inquiring about the region’s business climate and international presence.

 

The global outreach continues next week, through the end of April, and beyond. Next stop: Tokyo (return visit), Nagoya, Osaka, Auckland, Sydney, London, Toulon and Stockholm. We will certainly keep you updated from the road. 

 

December 11, 2015
San Diego Regional EDC is pleased to announce the relaunch of the World Trade Center San Diego (WTC San Diego), an organization dedicated to growing international trade and investment opportunities for San Diego. After an extensive search, the organization has hired Dr. Nikia Clarke as the new director of the WTC San Diego.
 
The city of San Diego, Port of San Diego and San Diego County Regional Airport Authority jointly own the license for the WTC San Diego, and have partnered with San Diego Regional EDC to execute World Trade Center programs. As a member of the World Trade Centers Association (headquartered in New York City), WTC San Diego will connect San Diego businesses to a global network of more than 330 World Trade Center licensees in roughly 100 countries. 
 
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, “The WTC San Diego is a critical part in the engine that will fire up our economy and workforce through creating foreign-direct investment and export opportunities. I’m proud of this accomplishment and the hard work that our partnership did to bring this vital organization back to life. I’m also proud of San Diego Regional EDC for coordinating the day-to-day tasks of this organization that will ultimately help showcase San Diego on the world stage as a talented and innovative city.”   
 
Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC said, “We are fortunate to have three of our most important public partners driving San Diego’s international engagement strategy. The best way to grow jobs locally is by helping our companies increase ties with global markets.”
 
Dan Malcolm, chairman of the board of Port Commissioners said, “As a founding License Holder of World Trade Center San Diego, the Port of San Diego is excited to continue to develop and optimize international networks and trade and investment opportunities to drive economic growth in the region.” 
 
Robert H. Gleason, board chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority said, “At San Diego International Airport, we know that a region’s economic competitiveness relies on effective air transportation and efficient connections to global markets. So we have looked forward to the relaunch of World Trade Center San Diego for some time and are excited to help advance the work of this crucial organization on behalf of our region and its international airport.”
 
WTC San Diego will capitalize on the brand’s strong local legacy to further drive a comprehensive regional trade and investment agenda.  WTC San Diego will operate as an affiliate of San Diego Regional EDC, executing the region’s Go Global San Diego initiative and providing other trade-related services. Released in early 2015 as a roadmap for reorienting the region’s economy towards greater global engagement, Go Global San Diego aims to grow jobs, enhance San Diego’s global identity and increase connections to markets that matter most to the region’s economy.  
 
In her new role, Clarke will be charged with overseeing San Diego’s international engagement strategy. A graduate of Oxford University with a Ph.D. in international relations, Clarke joins WTC San Diego with an extensive background in global business strategy, foreign direct investment (FDI) policy research and investment trends consulting. Clarke has spent the last ten years working in the private, public, and non-profit sectors in the U.S., the U.K., China and South Africa, and is founder and former director of OUCAN, an international network of emerging market industry leaders, researchers and policy makers. 
 
This week, WTC San Diego convenes the Global Competitiveness Council for its inaugural meeting. This group of senior partners and stakeholders will help to drive global engagement programming for the region. Highlights of WTC San Diego programming in early 2016 include: 
  • Outbound Mission: Japan (January)
  • Outbound Mission: Australia/New Zealand (February)
  • San Diego Global Forum: Latin America (February)
  • MetroConnect Export Challenge Kickoff (March)
  • Incoming Mission: American Competitiveness Exchange (April)
  • Outbound Mission: United Kingdom (April)
 
WTC San Diego is co-located with the San Diego Regional EDC offices.