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San Diego

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.”

 

 

April 8, 2014
 
San Diego is not Silicon Valley...and that's a good thing. Yes, the weather here is nicer, but that's not the only reason people come here. They come for access to resources, lower cost of living compared to other startup hubs, and of course, talent. Like many other tech founders, Stephan Goss, CEO of Zeeto Media and Jeff Brice, CEO of TrustEgg believe this so much, that they decided to locate their companies here. 
 
There is always room for improvement, but as San Diego's startup community continues to grow, so does the momentum we see to better the region. Take a look at the piece they wrote below for The Daily Transcript.
 
 

Why we chose San Diego over Silicon Valley (appeared in The Daily Transcript on April 7) by StephanGoss and Jeff Brice
It is conventional wisdom that if you want to launch a startup, Silicon Valley is the place to be. The funding, talent and resources are available in spades there. So people have flocked there hoping to become the next Facebook or Google, and some have succeeded.
 
We made a different choice. For us, San Diego was a smarter choice to launch our two businesses, Zeeto Media, an online media company, and TrustEgg, a simple venue to start online trust accounts for kids. The weather was certainly a seductive draw. It’s hard to ignore the climate and laid-back lifestyle of this Southern California city, but that is not why we are here. 
 
Read more in the Daily Transcript....

#GoSanDiego

 

February 10, 2014

Ten years from now, San Diego could be the home of the Summer Olympics.

As the world watched the opening ceremony for the SOCHI Olympic Games on Friday, San Diegans gathered aboard the Midway for a celebration of their own. Guests were treated to a preview of what the Olympics could mean for San Diego and our nation. This video highlights our region’s attributes and venues demonstrating our capacity to fully comply with USOC and IOC guidelines as a host city. 

"We're already such an amazing destination city.  We've hosted multiple bowl games. We've hosted a Super Bowl. We invented sports like the Triathlon and the Iron Man, and all these other things we actually already have venues that the public has already built," said Vincent Mudd. In addition to serving as EDC's incoming chair, Mudd also heads up the San Diego Exploratory Committee. Learn more...
 

 

October 4, 2013

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Every San Diego company has a unique story to tell. That became very apparent as the region came together to celebrate MFG Day at San Diego City College on Friday. Four panelists representing a diversity of San Diego companies talked about the challenges and opportunities facing the region’s manufacturing sector, which employs more than 90,000 individuals.

Take D&K Engineering, a high-tech manufacturer.  When the entrepreneurs who created EcoATM were looking to make their idea a reality, they went to the Rancho Bernardo firm to create an e-recycling kiosk. As a result, D&K Engineering had to scale up its production and hire more employees. And they chose to do it in San Diego. “Access to talent and the border opportunities are one of the main reasons I chose to start D&K in San Diego. Besides, who wouldn’t want to live here?” said Alex Kunczynski, one of the company’s founders.

The border also adds a significant competitive advantage for local manufacturers. As Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said in his opening remarks, “this is a big deal.” San Diego and Tijuana are currently working together like never before. When asked about why Taylor Guitars chose to open up a manufacturing facility across the border in Tecate, VP of Manufacturing Chris Wellons said “We have a saying at Taylor Guitars. We say ‘We’ll we be happy we did this in 10 years.’” And happy they are. Manufacturing in Mexico, as opposed to China or somewhere else overseas, has given Taylor more control over its finished product. It’s also become more cost competitive.

Wellons alluded to the entrepreneurial spirit of another panelist. Stephan Aarstol started Tower Paddle Boards - a sports and active lifestyle company - in 2010. With a little help from ABC’s “Shark Tank,”he transformed his sales from $3,000 in 2010 to $3 million in 2013.  Although he only has four employees in San Diego, he plans on growing in the coming years, and he’s looking to do it in the region. To him, he’s not just selling a paddleboard but also exporting California culture to consumers all over the globe.

As Chris Wellons of Taylor Guitars echoed, keeping manufacturing jobs close to home really comes down to innovating the process. Taylor Guitars has more than 700 employees, with many of them working out of its El Cajon headquarters. Although customers can still rely on the same quality that made Taylor a household name when it was founded in 1974, the manufacturing process has evolved. Taylor used to carve each of its guitar necks out of an individual piece of mahogany, meaning 60 – 70 percent of the materials were wasted. In 1999, Taylor decided that process needed to change. The result was one of the greatest guitar innovations in the past 100 years.  Instead of using a one-piece neck, Taylor switched to a three-piece neck, which resulted in a 66 percent yield in materials and created a more sustainable product. This, Wellons said, was possible because of the ability to execute a vision, which he thinks is a strength of San Diego.

So what can San Diego do to continue incubating manufacturing?

The answer may be easier said than done. San Diego is fortunate enough to have a highly-educated workforce. The metro currently ranks fourth in the U.S. for Ph.D. attainment rates.  Although Ph.D.-trained workers are essential for many San Diego sectors, as the panelists noted, it’s not necessarily these types of jobs they have trouble filling, but the machinist jobs where workers require hands-on manufacturing skills.

Wellons learned these skills in his high school shop class, and so did many other highly-skilled manufacturers. Admittedly, we focus a lot of time on retaining and incubating high-tech talent, but as Interim Mayor Gloria pointed out “These jobs are important too. They provide a comfortable middle-class life.” San Diego City College provided the perfect backdrop to get this conversation going. As San Diego Community College District Trustee Peter Zschiesche noted, 98 percent of San Diego City College grads remain in San Diego. 

With the guidance of San Diego Community College District and organizations like San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego – and it’s nearly 2,800 manufacturers – are looking to put these grads to work.

Of course, this all starts with the conversation we had this morning. A conversation that I’d bet we’ll be happy we had in 10 years.

Please check out MFGday.com for a list of local companies that held tours today,

Media Coverage: 

KPBS, Taylor Guitars still strumming along as example of San Diego manufacturing success

U-T, S.D. county product makers open doors to public

 

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August 27, 2013

On the border of San Diego and Tijuana sits San Ysidro, the busiest land port of entry in the world. Every day, an astounding 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians wait in line to enter the U.S. One in eight people who cross into the country daily will do so via the San Ysidro Port of Entry. And that’s only one of California’s six ports of entry.

The border provides enormous economic opportunities for the region, but wait times are impeding our ability to harness this potential. Current infrastructure needs must be addressed. According to the San Diego Metropolitan Export Initiative: Market Assessment, San Ysidro is an “infrastructural bottleneck,” with many respondents citing difficulties with border crossing as a barrier to doing business in Mexico.  Even with the recent expansion of several border crossings, today’s average wait time sits at 70 minutes, translating into more than eight million trips lost due to congestion each year. In fact, more jobs are lost in San Diego every year to border congestion than the government’s recent budget sequestration.*

A new bill is trying to speed up border wait times. SB 397, sponsored by Sen. Ben Hueso (D- San Diego), calls for the creation of an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), which will permit carriers to use “Ready Lanes.” The technology in these new driver licenses, which will be issued by California’s DMV—eliminates the need to manually key –in travelers information, translating into a 60 percent faster processing time.

Several Canadian border states have successfully implemented EDLs and Arizona and Texas are working on instituting similar programs for our neighbors to the south.  

Although SB 397 is only a small part of a long string of reforms that are needed to expedite border crossing, it’s a step in the right direction. The San Diego region cannot afford to lose out on the $1.3 billion in revenue and $ 42 million in wages that dissipate due to border congestion every year. The border is one of the most unique aspects about the region. Companies including 3Drobotics and Aqualung don’t shy away from the fact that this is one of the reasons they are proud to call San Diego home. Through work with the CaliBaja Bi-National Mega-Region, EDC understands the fundamental necessity of teaming with Baja California, Mexico and Imperial County to the East.

Bottom line: the border means big business for the mega region. SB 397 is one step in helping us maximize our cross-border potential.

 

Sources:  AB 17, SB 397, SB 397 Fact Sheet

*Projected impact of sequestration was 10 percent of military personal across board in San Diego; Recent SDMAC report found that the military had  311,000 direct employees in the region, SDMAC Military Impact Report 2012

 


 

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December 1, 2012

The goal of Big Picture San Diego is to expand the understanding of economic development and highlight the innovative ways in which the San Diego community is coming together to build a stronger region for the benefit of all of its residents.

There’s a lot being written and discussed about the future of the San Diego region. Big Picture San Diego is an attempt to synthesize information about what’s going on in the region with commentary on how current events and policies affect San Diego’s ability to grow and prosper. Here’s a broad definition of economic development from Business Exchange, a Bloomberg blog:

“Economic development is the development of wealth in countries or regions for the wellbeing of their citizens. From a policy perspective, economic development is any effort that seeks to improve the economic wellbeing and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting (or growing) incomes.”

At EDC, we feel that the true definition of economic development is reflected in our mission: To maximize our region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. We believe that this is best accomplished through thoughtful collaboration and open communication. As we build the blog, the hope is to offer good working examples of economic development and start a new conversation about how San Diego can best use its unique assets to grow jobs and the economy.

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