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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Brookings Institution

December 18, 2017


Ensuring Everyone has a seat at the table

A prosperous San Diego means an economy that works for all residents. Despite record low unemployment rates and a flourishing innovation economy, San Diego, and many other regions, have seen a rise in economic inequities. And if not addressed, this rise will have dire economic consequences. 
 
It started with taking an uncomfortable - yet honest - look at how San Diego can better address strategies for inclusive economic growth and how economic development professionals in San Diego can better address these strategies that impact both businesses and workers.

EDC's still has a long way to go in its mission to help make the competitiveness case for inclusion, but we've come a long way. See more in our timeline below:

 
  • APRIL 2016 - THE RISING TIDE
    A rising tide hasn’t lifted all boats, and sometimes it take a former Navy  Admiral to make that observation At EDC’s Annual Dinner, Jim Zortman takes over as EDC chair, and challenges uss to re-think economic development and engage communities that have been historically left out of the conversation.  
  • DECEMBER 2016 - A BROOKINGS INSTITUTION INCLUSIVE LEARNING LAB
    San Diego wasn’t the only place having these conversations. DC, on behalf of San Diego, was selected as one of three regions from around the country to participate in a learning lab, spearheaded by the Brookings Institution, focused on inclusive economic development and how organizations engage in this complex topic. EDC convened partners in the community who were embedded in these issues to come around the table.
  • JULY 2017 - DEFINING THE PROBLEM
    With the help of the Brookings Institution, EDC completed a narrative to make the competitiveness case for inclusive growth. Economic inclusion is more than just ‘corporate social responsibility’; it’s an economic development imperative.
    In the narrative, EDC highlights key stats about this challenge that frames inclusion as a competitiveness issue: that our demographics are shifting and our ‘innovation economy’ workforce is not reflective of our population; that the educational attainment gap in minority populations will exacerbate company workforce shortages in STEM fields; and that small businesses are not able to compete to grow. All of this is happening at a time when housing prices are at an all-time high and our population’s ability to afford to live here is shrinking.
  • SEPTEMBER 2017 - A LEADERSHIP TRIP TO LOUISVILLE
    EDC took a group of business leaders to Louisville, KY to understand how their region addresses challenges related to inclusion. In Louisville, where socioeconomic and demographic challenges have come into everyday conversation, our group learns to be bold and be direct when addressing these issues. It’s only when everyone can talk about the challenges that they can be addressed, in full. 
  • 2018 - WHAT'S NEXT
    As the region's innovation economy continues to grow, EDC is incorporating lessons learned into its own strategic plan. The plan is three-fold: 1) Developing San Diego's population to meet the region's talent needs 2) Helping SMEs better compete and 3) Highlighting issues of affordability that prevent talent from staying in, or coming to the region. 

We're just getting started. Stay tuned for more in 2018.

May 13, 2013

“It’s clear to us we are a global city,” said City of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner as he kicked off a press conference and town hall on May 13. Its focus was the need for the San Diego region to increase export activity in order to grow jobs and economic prosperity. It may be clear to San Diego, but it might not be clear to the rest of the world. He's out to change that perception and at the same time create more of the middle class jobs that were once the backbone of the San Diego economy. "We have not fulfilled our potential," he said, adding that we have the political will to change.

Each speaker commented on the findings of a market assessment that was the catalyst for the gathering. The market assessment is the first key step in the Brookings Metropolitan Export Initiative, a program focused on helping eight regions create collaborations from the ground up to design and implement customized metropolitan export plans.

City of San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey pointed out that San Diego has lots of advantages other areas don’t have, such as our technology sectors.

Michael Masserman, from the U.S. International Trade Administration came to offer his agency’s support which includes opening markets for exports and entering into trade agreements to facilitate exports. “Jobs in export-oriented companies pay 15 – 20 percent higher wages that their non-exporting counterparts,” said Masserman.

Elliott Hirshman, president of San Diego State University, discussed the importance of international engagement in educating the workforce of the future citing a substantial increase in international programs at San Diego State.

Peter Cowhey, dean of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego, presented highlights from the market assessment. Cowhey, along with two of his graduate students, was responsible for conducting the survey and collecting the data for the market assessment. “San Diego is punching well below our weight,” said Cowhey, pointing out that although San Diego is the country’s 17th largest metropolitan economy, we rank only 55th when examining exports as a share of our regional economic output.

The market assessment revealed that San Diego’s exporters see a need for infrastructure development in three major areas: port, airport and cyber infrastructure.

Bob Nelson, vice chair of the board of port commissioners, agreed that if the region is going to see growth in exports then we need to see growth in infrastructure. The Port has in the works infrastructure improvements worth close to $100 million.

Robert Gleason, board chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, said that San Diego International Airport has a critical role to play in increasing export activity. That includes additional international non-stop service and increasing cargo capacity. An added benefit of more international visitors (which are also considered exports) is that they typically spend almost double what a domestic visitor spends on a trip.

Steven Weathers, president and CEO of World Trade Center San Diego, an organization that provides direct services to exporting companies, said that many people ask him, “What’s the big goal?” His answer? “Job creation – sustainable, diverse, job creation.”

photo left to right: Mayor Bob Filner, City Councilman Mark Kersey, Michael Masserman, Peter Cowhey, Bob Nelson, Robert Gleason, Elliot Hirshman, Steven Weathers

Access the full report: San Diego Metropolitan Export Initiative Market Assessment

Media coverage 

Region needs to boost exporting, report saysU-T San Diego
Local leaders push boosting trade, The Daily Transcript  
San Diego could be exporting more, Brookings Institution reports, KPBS

 

 
 

                                  

March 4, 2013

CaliBaja MegaRegion

How many positive articles about Mexico does it take to confirm a trend? Three seems about right, but add in a major think tank calling 2013/2014 the “Year of Mexico,” and you’ve got a full-fledged movement going on.

First came Chris Anderson’s New York Times opinion piece titled “Mexico: The New China,” where he describes his cross-border company 3D Robotics. With facilities in both San Diego and Tijuana he is able to do what he calls “quicksourcing,” where the short supply chain between the two locations enables the company to innovate faster and control inventory more efficiently. Anderson, who was the editor of Wired before he left to join 3D Robotics full time, compares the Hong Kong and Shenzhen special economic zone of the late 1990s and early 2000s to today’s experience working between San Diego and Tijuana. “The sense of possibility I felt when I first crossed from Hong Kong to Shenzhen in 1997 is what I now feel when I cross from San Diego to Tijuana,” said Anderson.

Flat-worlder Thomas Friedman weighed in from Monterrey, Mexico on “How Mexico Got Back in the Game,” with stats on Mexico’s trade with the U.S. – a staggering $1.5 billion a day. Friedman cites The Financial Times reporting that Mexico has signed 44 trade agreements, which is more than any country in the world, and exports more manufactured products than the combined exports of all other Latin American countries. “Better integration of Mexico’s manufacturing and innovation prowess into America’s is a win-win. It makes U.S. companies more profitable and competitive, so they can expand at home and abroad, and it gives Mexicans a reason to stay home and reduces violence,” wrote Friedman.

Violence is where USA Today’s article “Mexico’s commerce crawls back from drug war’s chaos,” started – but the story focused on the fact that border violence has been dropping steadily in the last year –  quoting a study from the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute citing that organized crime-related murder in Mexico dropped 21 percent in 2012. In Mexico’s six border states the drop was a dramatic 32 percent.  San Diego Regional EDC’s Christina Luhn, who leads the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region initiative, worked closely with the reporters and introduced them to people on both sides of the border.

EDC Vice President Sean Barr was in Washington DC last week for meetings at the Brookings Institution regarding their Metropolitan Export Exchange program where teams of metropolitan leaders are working on developing Metropolitan Export Plans to improve their global trade strategies so the nation can remain a center of growth and innovation for years to come. At the meeting Brookings announced that 2013/14 will be the “Year of Mexico.” According to Barr, the ongoing reshoring and nearshoring trends have attracted their attention. Their effort will start with an in-depth study of US-Mexico supply chains.  “The Mega-Region Initiative is of considerable interest to them,” he told the EDC team.

Let’s make sure it’s really the year of cross-border progress.