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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Nikia Clarke

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.
 

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.