“The Obstacle Is the Way”
This is the title of a book I recently started reading about applying stoic philosophy to everyday, modern life. The core teaching is to turn adversity into advantage. Obstacles, both predictable and unforeseen, are not an impediment to growth or progress but rather the path to achieving our goals—it’s a matter of perspective.
EDC and a steering committee of the region’s largest employers determined that for our region to continue to grow and remain competitive, by 2030, San Diego will need:
- 50,000 quality jobs in small businesses,
- 20,000 skilled workers per year, and
- 75,000 newly thriving households.
However, to do so, inclusion needs to be our focus. To achieve these goals, we must invest in and support the segments of our community that have been historically and systemically excluded from growth and prosperity—not simply because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s an economic imperative.
Small businesses employ 60 percent of San Diego’s workforce but struggle to compete for new customers and talent. On top of that, supply chain disruptions have impacted nearly every industry in our region. Connecting local small businesses to big, institutional buyers builds resiliency for both sides.
To keep pace with the demand for talent, we must double the production of skilled workers in our region. If San Diego’s Black and Hispanic youth were prepared for post-secondary education at the same rate as White youth, our talent shortage would become a talent surplus.
San Diego is now the most expensive major metro in the country. The rapidly rising cost of living is impacting employers’ ability to attract and retain talent. Investing in the infrastructure needed to support working families ensures that the region remains an attractive place for people to work and businesses to operate in.
That is the scale of our challenge. It is also the size of our opportunity.
Even the pandemic itself, a once-in-a-century global health crisis that has claimed the lives of nearly one million Americans, has paved a new way forward. It taught us that how and where we work can be different and better. It reaffirmed that small businesses are not just places of employment but also part of the fabric of our community. It reminded us that no matter how much technology we have at our fingertips, it is the human spirit that drives the life-changing and life-saving innovation in our region and world.
During last week’s Report to the Community, I shared that four years later progress toward these goals remains elusive. Yet, the more than 200 people in attendance reminded us that our collective commitment toward these goals will drive the region toward success.
San Diego’s future growth and competitiveness could be undermined by the inequities we currently face; or, the next wave of innovation and prosperity could be fueled by greater inclusion. It’s a matter of perspective. The obstacle is the way.
Take care, Eduardo