Release: San Diego Global Trade and Investment Strategy serves to drive recovery, resilience

World Trade Center San Diego updates 2015 regional plan amid pandemic

Today, alongside Congressman Scott Peters, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and key regional business leaders and in partnership with the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy at UC San Diego, World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) released its “Go Global 2025: San Diego’s Global Trade and Investment Initiative.” This regional strategic plan serves as the update to the inaugural strategy launched in 2015 and focuses on global engagement as an engine for recovery and resilience.

Available on web at goglobal2025.wtcsd.org, the strategic plan also includes an overview of San Diego’s economic and policy landscape, an interactive foreign investment map, perspectives from executives of global firms and more.

THE CASE FOR GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT

As the world collectively battles a pandemic and navigates resulting economic shutdowns, the global economy faces some of the most significant disruptions in a generation. Nations and cities have begun to look inward to focus on domestic needs including healthcare, education, infrastructure, equity and job creation. And yet, if this year has taught us anything, it is that we are a global society that is inextricably connected.

On the road to recovery, it is increasingly important for leaders at the metro level to articulate a compelling, data-driven vision of our place within the global economy and collaboratively execute a strategy that keeps us ahead of the curve.

“San Diego is filled with world-class innovation and smart people solving global problems. Now is the time for our big, binational City to show up on the world stage to help us reach our goals faster,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “As Mayor, I want to tell that story in a way that opens doors and enables more investment, jobs and opportunities for San Diegans and moves our city forward.”

While San Diego exports $22 billion in goods annually, the region is also a top 10 services exporter among U.S. metros. The region’s competitive advantage is in professional, scientific, and technical services, like research and development, cybersecurity, and engineering and software. These industries also capture the highest concentration of foreign direct investment (FDI) via mergers and acquisitions and venture capital investment. In fact, San Diego life sciences firms captured nearly three-quarters of the estimated $3 billion in foreign investment injected into the regional economy last year.

“As the “next normal” takes shape, San Diego needs to continue to prepare for where the economy is going by focusing on our most globally competitive industries. However, we need to be intentional about creating quality jobs at every skill level within those industries, and enabling San Diegans with the tools they need to fill those jobs,” said Nikia Clarke, Executive Director, WTCSD. “This will ensure that our businesses and innovators continue to export life-changing technology, and it will also make all our communities more resilient to future shocks.”

A STRATEGIC PLAN

In order to drive quality job growth through expanding foreign investment and exports, deepen economic ties to strategic markets, and enhance the region’s reputation to drive competitiveness, WTCSD proposes five key strategies for the San Diego region:

  1. Lead with the region’s most competitive industries. Most growth and job creation will come from innovation–based industries.
  1. Leverage binational assets to attract foreign investment. Capture investment along the entire value chain in priority industries.
  1. Prioritize market access for small businesses. Small businesses create the most jobs but face higher barriers to internationalization.
  1. Invest in critical infrastructure that enables global commerce. Modernize, maintain and expand service through international ports of entry.
  1. Enhance San Diego’s global identity and reputation for innovation. Deepen public-private partnerships on focused international activity.

“The digital paradigm shift we’ve seen is just one of the many ways the global marketplace—and in turn, our business—has been revolutionized by the pandemic. This is why a regional strategic plan like the one WTCSD has outlined matters: there are real businesses, real people, real jobs who require the resilience that global connection provides,” said Ken Behan, VP of Sales and Marketing, SYSTRAN.

“The Port of San Diego is a vital economic engine for the region with San Diego Bay and the surrounding waterfront at the heart of it all. While it has been a difficult and uncertain year for us and many of our bayfront businesses, there are so many legacy-making decisions ahead. This strategy presents an opportunity for us to align not only in word, but in action. The impacts could be transformational,” said Commissioner Jennifer LeSar, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners.

The report was produced by WTCSD, with support by the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy at UC San Diego and sponsored by Illumina. It was unveiled today at a community event alongside Congressman Scott Peters; San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria; Dr. Renee Bowen, Director, Center for Commerce and Diplomacy, UC San Diego; Garry Ridge, Chairman of the Board & CEO, WD-40; Kathleen Lynch, Vice President, Global Government Affairs & Public Policy, Illumina; Maritza Diaz, CEO, iTjuana; and Dr. Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, General Atomics Global.

ABOUT WTCSD
Founded in 1994 by the City of San Diego, Port of San Diego, and San Diego International Airport, World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) operates as an affiliate of San Diego Regional EDC. WTCSD works to further San Diego’s global competitiveness by building an export pipeline, attracting and retaining foreign investment and increasing San Diego’s global profile abroad. sandiegobusiness.org/wtcsd

Read the full strategy and report here

Meet our Board: Lisette Islas

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are publishing a series of blogs about the women behind EDC—our fearless leaders, our board members, our executive committee, our guiding lights. To close the month, we are featuring a woman that San Diego is lucky to have. The Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer for MAAC, a community organization that provides services and advocacy to some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and one of Mayor Todd Gloria’s Women of Distinction, Lisette Islas.

Tell us who you are and what you do. Why did you choose your career?

I am the Executive Vice President & Chief Impact Officer at MAAC, a nonprofit that works in the areas of health, education, economic development, housing and advocacy. Every year, MAAC supports more than 70,000 people across San Diego County, most of whom are facing severe economic and social hardships when they walk through our door.

I came to this work through a winding path. My intention was to become a university professor; I had dreams of teaching courses and doing research in the areas of sociology and ethnic studies. I love learning. To this day, I stay up way-too-late reading books and articles, so in my early 20’s the idea of spending life as a researcher seemed very appealing. During graduate school, I realized that I was most fulfilled when I was working directly with community members to solve problems and create new opportunities. So, I changed the plan and found a career that would place me in the midst of efforts to transform communities and uplift families. In the two decades since then, I have learned that I’m good at building partnerships across sectors, bringing unlikely groups together to find new solutions to old problems, and driving organizational and community change.

At my core, I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend who feels a sense of commitment to the community that raised me and who is trying to do my part to leave the world a little better for the people that come after me.

Other things to know about me: I grew up in Imperial Beach, am a proud Cal grad, look forward to dance parties in the living room with my little girl, and have a pretty loud (and frequent) laugh. I think in English but often dream in Spanish, so I’d say that makes me truly bilingual. Most importantly: I love to cheer for people doing good in the world.

What does your involvement in EDC mean to you?

I joined EDC just as the Inclusive Growth Initiative was taking shape. Serving on the EDC’s Executive Committee quickly became one of the top honors and joys of my workdays. The committee members all come from different industries and our world views and personal histories run the full spectrum of possibilities. That diversity of thought and experience is exactly what makes us successful as we look for new strategies to develop the economic strength of our region. We listen deeply, are always open to learning, and talk through things until we land on the right solution. Plus, we genuinely enjoy each other’s company!

When I walk away from an EDC meeting, I always feel like I am taking something with me that will make me a better leader at the office—be it a new idea, a partnership opportunity, or data that can help me make better decisions. And, just as importantly, I also feel that I have contributed to efforts that are going to meaningfully improve the lives of San Diegans. I will never meet most of the business owners and community members whose lives are touched by the work we do at EDC, but I feel immensely proud knowing that I am collaborating with a group that is genuinely committed to the betterment of San Diego and is championing strategies that will impact our region for generations to come.

What role do you see women playing across the San Diego region in the next five years?

It has been very inspiring to watch the number of women in significant leadership roles grow across San Diego over the last few years. There have been ceilings shattered in visible and not-so-visible positions, and a lot of intentionality in making board rooms and other decision-making seats much more equitable when it comes to gender. Just in recent months, we have seen the first Latina be elected to the County Board of Supervisors, a Filipina appointed to the Southwestern College Board, and a Black woman selected at as the first Chief Innovation Officer for the City of San Diego.

My stats? As the second in command at MAAC, I am the highest-ranking woman in the organization’s 55-year history, and I’m the first Latina appointed to the EDC’s Executive Committee.

Though we have made significant strides, we can’t get comfortable. Among the many things we have learned since March 2020 is that all the gains we have made towards gender equity at home and in the workplace can quickly disappear. In the last 12 months, across our country, 2.3 million women have left the workforce. The story is not much brighter for those that remain employed: men have been promoted three times more than women during the pandemic. And, of course, sustaining pay inequity, with women earning 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, and that number drops to 70 cents for working moms. There is work to be done: women are hold a disproportionate number of low-wage jobs; there aren’t sufficient affordable, high-quality childcare options; and retirement savings are virtually nonexistent for one in five women. As a region, we have to wrap our arms around some really complex issues. EDC’s work provides very important tools to do so.

Share with us your favorite quote.

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” –Maya Angelou

This quote sits in a frame, in my office at work so I don’t forget to bring my full self to any situation – including all the uncommon parts of my personal and work history. I’ve learned not to hide them because they are what gives me the unique leadership perspective I have today.

What advice do you have for women in business?

Growing up, my mom often told me that there will always be people that have more than us and others who have less. I think about that often when I look back at my career, taking stock of what I’ve done and what I have yet to accomplish. There is always someone that has gone before me, that I can learn from and be inspired by. Likewise, there is someone that is following in my footsteps, who can benefit from the lessons I’ve gained and things I’ve experienced.

So how does that tie into my advice for women in business? Four words: lift as you climb.

Follow along with Lisette on Twitter: @lisetteislas1

Meet our Board: Tonya Cross

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are publishing a series of blogs about the women behind EDC—our fearless leaders, our board members, our executive committee, our guiding lights. Below you’ll learn more about Tonya Cross, SVP of people and corporate operations at Lytx. Tonya talked to us about the importance of doing what you love, and trusting that it will take you in the right direction.

Tell us who you are and what you do. Why did you choose your career?

Born in San Diego but raised in a tiny Arizona town, I always knew I belonged in my hometown. After high school graduation, without a plan, I drove to San Diego and haven’t looked back. My 17-year-old self would’ve never imagined I’d be a lawyer turned SVP, People & Corporate Operations for an amazing company.

It’s so fun being part of the Lytx team, building a market-leading company in the video telematics space. With our technology, we help save lives on our roadways every day. Since joining, I’ve had the pleasure of helping Lytx grow from fewer than 100 employees to nearly 800 – we’re hiring.

My career journey is a winding path because I gravitate toward what allows me to do what I love. I’ve had fantastic mentors who guided me in career choices and believed in me more than I believed in myself at the time. Starting as a legal secretary, I was encouraged by Amy Wintersheimer and fellow EDC Board member, Heather Ace, to attend law school. Flash forward, I’m a USD Law graduate practicing employment law at DLA Piper.

I loved law – but hated litigation’s contentious nature. Wanting to invest my energy in moving people forward in positive ways, I turned to HR. I love HR because I get to empower others and help employees advance their careers.

To follow what I love meant having the courage to leave what wasn’t right for me – even if it meant stepping back in title or compensation.

What does your involvement in EDC mean to you?

Working with the EDC is an opportunity to give back to the community I love, particularly with my involvement as HR forum co-leader. I feel fortunate to be in this role and part of an incredible group of community leaders, especially during COVID. Our leaders guide companies and employees through this global pandemic and make difficult decisions in an unprecedented environment. We have navigated this scary time as a collective group. It never felt like we were doing it alone because we had each other.

What role do you see women playing across the San Diego region in the next five years?

I believe women will play an even more significant leadership role, not just in the community side of things but also in leading businesses. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, women have had a lot coming at them – both from a family perspective and a work perspective. I watched many women step up and lead through this uncertainty with empathy, compassion, and strength. I believe these women will carry that leadership forward into whatever fuels their passion, take on leadership roles, and drive positive change.

Share with us your favorite quote.

“Do what you love what you do.” – Roy T. Bennett

What advice do you have for women in business?

Find what you love and go towards it with courage and confidence. Never put limits on yourself because your possibilities are limitless, especially when you’re doing what you love. Never doubt that you’re good enough because you are. GO. FOR. IT! If you fail, you fail. Dust yourself off and get back in the game with all the learnings you gained from the journey. No doubt it’s scary but turn that fear around into drive. When you’re doing what you love, you can’t go wrong.

Follow along with Lytx on Twitter: @lytx

Meet our Board: Jennie Brooks

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are publishing a series of blogs about the women behind EDC—our fearless leaders, our board members, our executive committee, our guiding lights. Up next, a trailblazer in the defense and artificial intelligence spheres: Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, Ms. Jennie Brooks.

Tell us who you are and what you do. Why did you choose your career?

Born in the Bay Area and raised in San Diego, I’m a Californian at heart. After growing up in Point Loma, I didn’t stray far from home when attending UC San Diego, and later, SDSU. Throughout my life I’ve had the opportunity to travel, but there’s no greater sight than the Coronado Bridge and bay front when landing at the San Diego International Airport. I’m grateful to raise my son in this amazing community and proud to serve alongside leaders who work to uphold San Diego as America’s Finest City.

I serve as Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, leading our San Diego office of 1,300 employees. Booz Allen is a global technology and management consulting firm, with work in data science and analytics, digital solutions, engineering and cybersecurity, spanning a range of industries including defense, civil, health, and commercial.

Booz Allen has been a great place to build my career because the values of the firm align with my own. I’m passionate about our work, helping to solve our clients’ toughest challenges, and empowering people to change the world. Dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, I serve on Booz Allen’s Women’s Business Resource Group, working to attract, retain, and develop female employees across the firm. In 2021, I’m focused on reimagining the future ways we will work and live post-pandemic, and on working with colleagues and community leaders to create a more equitable world.

What does your involvement in EDC mean to you?

At Booz Allen, we’re passionate about strengthening the communities where we live and work. Through pro-bono work, mentorships, and partnerships with impactful organizations such as the USS MIDWAY, Rady Children’s Hospital, Feeding San Diego, and Girl Scouts, I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back. My involvement in EDC provides a meaningful opportunity to help drive economic inclusion across San Diego. Our work on EDC’s Defense Innovation Voucher Program helped to strengthen small and mid-size businesses bringing innovative solutions to the military. Further, our work on EDC’s series, Measuring the Future: Artificial Intelligence and San Diego’s Economy, will quantify the impacts of AI technologies on our economy. Our partnership with the organization also provides the opportunity to work together on building the STEM talent pipeline needed for our future.

What role do you see women playing across the San Diego region in the next five years?

Women’s History Month is a great time to honor the brave women who pushed boundaries and paved the way for us to have the opportunities we enjoy today. We stand on the shoulders of giants—women who established their seat in the Board room, in the cockpit, in the laboratory, and in the halls of Congress.

While we look back at the challenges and achievements of women from past generations, we recognize we’re living through historic times and there is still a great deal of work to be done. Unfortunately, we’ve seen significant setbacks to gender equity in the workforce due to the unprecedented challenges of this past year. Families have juggled work, distance learning, and home responsibilities, while segments of industries have eroded, resulting in women leaving the workforce in record numbers since the start of the pandemic. Recognizing the invaluable contributions women make to our economy and society, as San Diego emerges post-pandemic, women will play vital roles in redesigning the workforce and creating solutions and flexible work benefits which enable women to regain and retain meaningful employment. Forums such as the ASCEND Executive Women’s Forum (produced by UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management) will continue to be key in bringing together women serving in executive leadership positions across San Diego to go beyond merely discussing the challenges they face, and continue working together to solve these issues.

Share with us your favorite quote.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead

What advice do you have for women in business?

  • Never stop learning. Keep a growth mindset and willingness to take on new roles. These will bring diverse experiences and lessons learned.
  • Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. Women are not just participating in STEM fields but also leading, innovating, and driving the development of new technologies and solutions.
  • Use your voice. Bring your unique perspectives, experiences and insights to the business.
  • Trust your instinct.
  • Give back by mentoring. It will be valuable to those receiving your guidance and undoubtedly very rewarding to you as well.

Follow along with Jennie on Twitter: @JennieBrooksSD

San Diego Regional EDC welcomes Julian Parra as new board chair

EDC works toward the “right recovery” with new chair leading the way

As San Diego works to recover from a global pandemic and faces systemic race and equity issues that plague all metropolitan economies, EDC continues to drive an inclusive growth and recovery strategy as outgoing Board Chair Janice Brown passes the gavel to Julian Parra.

“While we are all facing many challenges right now, we also see opportunity. I look forward to working with EDC’s team to ensure that all San Diegan’s have access to opportunities so that we can position our region for the right recovery.” said Julian Parra, Region Executive, at Bank of America.

The right recovery is rooted in our inclusive growth work and focuses on ensuring we double down on the building blocks that make for a strong economy by creating skilled talent, economically-stabilizing jobs, and thriving households.

“There is nobody I trust more than Julian to continue this work in a time that San Diego needs it most,“ said outgoing Chair Janice Brown, founder of Brown Law Group, who spearheaded the inclusive growth initiative during her time as chair, “I believe in how EDC’s work has evolved, and will continue to support this organization and team.”

As chair, Parra is supported by four officers:

  • Vice Chair, Rob Douglas, President and COO, ResMed
  • Vice Chair, Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Treasurer, Phil Blair, President and CEO at Manpower San Diego
  • Secretary, Tom Seidler, SVP Community & Military Affairs, San Diego Padres

Along with the election of a new chair, EDC’s board also elected three new board members:

  • Tonya Cross, Senior Vice President People & Corporate Operations at Lytx Inc
  • Heather Ace, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Qualcomm Inc
  • Sandra McDonough, Partner at Paul Plevin Sullivan and Connaughton LLP

EDC is a membership-based non-profit organization that mobilizes government and civic leaders around an inclusive economic development strategy in order to connect data to decision making, maximize regional prosperity, enhance global competitiveness and position San Diego effectively for investment and talent. The organization’s nearly 200 investors range from small businesses like Brown Law Group, to the region’s largest employers like Qualcomm and SDG&E, to the leading anchor institutions such as universities and hospitals.

THE RIGHT RECOVERY

Over the last two decades, San Diego’s economy has more than doubled in size. Meanwhile, the typical household has seen its income increase at roughly half that rate. The impacts of COVID-19 have likely exasperated income inequities, disproportionately affecting the parts of the community historically disconnected from opportunities.

The right recovery means putting systems into place that ensure that as we rebuild our economy, we are doing so in a thoughtful and resilient way, that ensures all San Diegans can benefit from our region’s future growth.

“I am the first one to acknowledge that EDC has not always been focused on inclusive strategies. When Janice became chair, we were just beginning to understand how San Diego – as a region – has missed out on economic opportunity by creating racial disparities. We have an opportunity to ensure that we are pivoting programming and putting systems into place so we do not widen racial and economic inequities as our region recovers.  Nobody understands these responsibilities more than Julian,” said Mark Cafferty, EDC’s president & CEO.

To address these inequities, EDC has pivoted and launched programming aligning with the three pillars: skilled talent, economically-stabilizing jobs and thriving households. With the majority of San Diegans employed by small and medium size businesses (SMBs), San Diego has set a goal to create 50K economically-stabilizing jobs by 2030. To help achieve that goal, EDC programs such as MetroConnect and Advancing San Diego will continue in a virtual capacity, providing export assistance and paid internship programs, respectively.

We hope you’ll join us as we work to create a more equitable and prosperous San Diego, for all who live here.