San Diego’s economic recovery must be inclusive.

A note from Our board chair

In 1967, my parents fled Cuba to seek freedom and a better life in the United States. Due to travel restrictions, they were forced to move to Spain, where I was born, before finally arriving in the City of Chicago in January 1968. My parents never dreamed that within a generation, their son would become a senior executive at one of the largest financial institutions in the world. Growing up in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, I certainly never thought that the community I would find myself living and investing in all these years later would be San Diego, California. Yet here I am.

As I take on the role of board chair for the next two years at San Diego Regional EDC, I am fortunate, blessed, and humbled by the opportunities that life has given me. I also recognize that my story is not the norm for Latino immigrants in this country and that my journey thus far is not particularly common for a city kid from Chicago. I feel both an obligation and responsibility to use this time at EDC wisely, effectively, and purposefully. And as the threats and realities of COVID-19 and racial injustice continue to grip our community and our economy, like many, I feel the urgency and the need to accelerate the recovery that lies in front of us.

From the years following the Great Depression to those following the Great Recession, every recovery that the American economy has experienced has increased systemic poverty and widened the inequalities in Latino and African American communities. Too often, in a rush to restore economic normalcy for some, entire segments of our communities have been left further behind and unable to find and maintain their footing on a new and changing economic foundation. Our commitment at EDC is to do everything we can—drawing on the breadth and depth of every partnership and relationship we have—to get this recovery right.

This recovery requires us to redouble our commitment to inclusive economic growth, so that we build back a San Diego that is more resilient because prosperity reaches more people. Even in the midst of great economic uncertainty, we know one thing for sure: the innovation economy will lead us out of this recession just like it has every one before it. If the business community is thoughtful, strategic, and collaborative in this moment, we can ensure a stronger, bolder, more resilient San Diego in the years ahead.

The building blocks are clear: skilled talent, quality jobs, and thriving households.

  1. The hottest job market in a generation has become the weakest. However, there are still shortages for in-demand jobs. This means we need to do better at equipping San Diegans for the jobs of today, and those of tomorrow.
  1. Nearly 30% of small businesses have closed. And we know small businesses employ the majority of San Diegans. This means we must invest in entrepreneurship and resiliency by creating opportunities for diverse founders, and better connecting small businesses to big customers.
  1. Housing prices and unemployment are both at record highs. The economy cannot recover if people cannot afford to live here. This means we must prioritize access to and affordability of the essential infrastructure that working families rely upon—like housing, childcare, and broadband.

If past economic, financial, education, and workforce decisions have exacerbated systemic poverty and created barriers to opportunity for so many, it follows that the decisions we make now can change the future for our children and grandchildren. And with nearly 200 of the region’s largest employers, hundreds of community partners, and the proud legacies of my family and culture behind me—I plan on seeing San Diego Regional EDC through a period of historic and inclusive growth. We will get this recovery right.

—Julian Parra, EDC board chair
& SVP, Region Executive, Pacific Southwest Business Banking, Bank of America

Visit our Inclusive Recovery page for more

See Julian’s op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune