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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Getting to now: San Diego's history with the Global Cities Initiative

January 21, 2015

Leading up to San Diego’s Global Summit on March 11, we’ll be giving a rundown of some panelists, guest speakers and programs involved in the Summit every Wednesday.

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With new and stable city leadership, sustained recovery from the Great Recession, and a balanced city budget, San Diego is poised for future and sustained growth.

San Diego’s ability to maintain long-term economic growth and job creation will depend on its ability to attract additional investment and promote exports in the region’s key  industries.

Have no fear; San Diego’s leaders are prepared to do just that.

San Diego’s participation in the Global Cities Initiative (GCI) began in 2012 when the Brookings Institution selected San Diego as one of eight metro areas to participate in the Metropolitan Export Exchange program whose goal is to help regional leaders create and implement strategic action plans to increase exports. This effort culminated locally in the release of the Global San Diego Export Plan in early 2014 and the formation of the Global Competitiveness Council to champion international efforts.

The initial plan revealed some stark facts about San Diego’s position in the global economy. San Diego is the 17th largest metro by GDP and population in the U.S. but it ranks 49th in the US in terms of the percentage of jobs in foreign-owned firms and 61st in terms of export intensity. However, it also gave us an opportunity to change things.

Immediately following the release of the Export Plan, San Diego was selected as one of six cities to participate in a new pilot GCI program, the Metropolitan Foreign Investment Initiative. What started as a program focusing on educating leaders about the benefits of foreign direct investment (FDI) and helping regions create policies and programs to attract additional FDI evolved into cities actually creating a global trade and investment plan – which marries the action plans of increasing exports and attracting FDI.

Foreign direct investment may seem like an elusive term, but it can be defined as when a foreign entity invests in a domestic organization either by locating part of its business here or by infusing capital or buying a domestic business. The benefits of increasing exports and attracting FDI are key to San Diego’s future and sustained growth.  Global companies – those that export or receive foreign direct investment –  pay their employees higher wages, invest more in R&D, and increase the global exchange of ideas; all important and relevant if San Diego wants to compete in the international marketplace.

At San Diego’s Global Summit on March 11, EDC and its partners will release the region’s Global Trade and Investment Plan, a culmination of research, action plans, and programs which aim to increase the amount of foreign investment into the region and assist companies in the region in their effort to go global.

More information on March 11 is available here.

Next week, we’ll take a look at a regional asset that contributes more than $10 billion in economic activity and connects San Diego’s businesses and people to the globe. In regards to San Diego’s position in the global economy, there’s no place to go but up. 


Join us as we formally launch San Diego's Global Summit, a global competitiveness initiative, on March 11. Subscribe here to receive new posts every Wednesday on this topic.