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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


San Francisco

August 19, 2016

As increasing costs and traffic have made headlines around the country, the Bay Area has been top of mind to many of those in economic development. We’ve seen stories indicating a third of Bay Area residents want to leave the region, making it ripe for other states to recruit companies and talent. Yet, economic developers from San Francisco to Oakland and San Jose are confident they can overcome challenges and continue to be world’s leading innovation engine. So what can San Diego learn?

This week, EDC and nine San Diego economic and workforce development practitioners spent two days in San Francisco with our Bay Area peers to find out. Meetings covered a range of topics including:

  • General understanding of the history of the Bay Area innovation boom
  • Regional collaboration models
  • Tech transfer and acceleration as economic drivers
  • Implementing technology within cities to boost efficiency and capability
  • Building a tech ecosystem
  • Collaborating to prepare a regional workforce
  • Working across departments to ease strain on business

Coming out of discussions with more than 25 Bay Area peers, it’s clear there is much San Diego can learn from our northern California counterparts. The region is certainly not without its challenges and many of the news we’ve read about Bay Area economic struggles were validated while there. But as Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute put it, “We have a culture of lawlessness here that drives people to find solutions.” He was talking about the entrepreneurial mindset that has driven innovation throughout the 101 city, 9 county region. That mindset has seen Google and Facebook to overcome traffic challenges by operating private bus fleets and ferry services for their employees that rival most transportation agencies. It has seen workforce investment boards establish partnerships that cut across multiple regions to better serve the population being displaced to cheaper locations further East. It has seen the development and implementation of new technologies meant to ease the launch of new startups. Lastly, it has shown that through innovative and out-of-the-box thinking, any challenge can be overcome.

As we breakdown all we learned from the best practices trip, it’s clear that the San Diego region is well-positioned to continue its evolution as a tech ecosystem – not one that mirrors or rivals Silicon Valley, but one that stands alone with its own set of strengths.