A note from Dr. Clarke

When we relaunched World Trade Center San Diego in 2015 as an affiliate of EDC, it was with the goal to align the global competitiveness agenda of the region with its economic development priorities. The City, the Port, and the Airport Authority partnered with EDC to do just that, and we released a collaborative trade and investment strategy focused on growing exports, investment and global connectivity.

More than five years later, the global economy faces some of the most significant disruptions in a generation. Much is uncertain: for firms, for supply chains, for workers, and for communities. And yet, if this year has taught us anything, it is that we are a global society that is inextricably connected. San Diego’s economic evolution has demonstrated that global competitiveness and domestic resilience reinforce each other. Trade policy is national, but economies are regional, and jobs are local.

Today, with vaccine deployment underway, schools and offices reopening, and our first nonstop flight from Japan in a year landing at San Diego International Airport last month, there is light at the end of the tunnel. As we look to recovery, resilience, and indeed to growth, no time is better than now to think strategically about how we engage with the world. That is why, alongside civic and business leaders, we were proud to launch Go Global 2025: San Diego’s Trade and Investment strategy. This strategy leverages the region’s assets to expand exports, attract investment, and connect our region to the markets that matter most for growth:

  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 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. Deepen public-private partnerships’ on focused international activity.

The overarching goal of a global competitiveness strategy is not simply more, but also intentional trade and investment. When paired with a focus on expanding the pipeline of skilled talent for high-demand jobs, this critical work will enable the region—and its businesses, workers, and communities—to reach our growth and resiliency goals faster and get this recovery right.

There is much work to do, and as always, that work is only possible with and through all of you, our investors and partners. So, with gratitude and optimism, I’ll close with words from our friends at San Diego International Airport, “Let’s GO.”

Dr. Nikia Clarke

Nikia Clarke
Nikia Clarke

Senior Vice President; Executive Director, WTC

COVID-19 and its impacts to San Diego Air Travel

While so much is still unknown about the future of travel in a post-COVID world, World Trade Center San Diego (WTC) is working with San Diego International Airport (SAN) to understand how to build back an economy that is even stronger and more resilient. The connectivity provided by the airport will continue to be a vital aspect of our region and WTC remains committed to working alongside the airport and the San Diego Tourism Authority through this recovery.

WTC, San Diego Tourism Authority, and San Diego International Airport are spearheading a COVID-19 economic recovery strategy that focuses on flight retention and expansion.  As a result of the pandemic, the economic climate surrounding air travel has been unprecedentedly impacted, and SAN has felt those negative impacts. Since the beginning of the stay-at-home orders in March 2020, COVID-19 has resulted in a cumulative loss of over $396 billion for the U.S. travel economy.

As a key partner to SAN, WTC works to improve regional competitiveness and bring flights back to San Diego in a post-COVID world with a focus on business travel and economic activity.

“The shutdown has caused unprecedented disruptions to trade and travel, but we know access to global markets is an essential part of our regional recovery. Nonstop international service is correlated with an average 20 percent increase in investment flows between destinations, which is why retaining global service out of SAN—and being intentional about how we fly—should be one of our region’s highest economic development priorities,” said Nikia Clarke, Executive Director, WTC San Diego.

In support of SAN’s efforts, WTC has launched a corporate travel survey and conducted interviews with local business leaders to make sure SAN is aligned with the business community needs in their comprehensive recovery strategy.

Key takeaways from WTC’s Corporate Travel Survey:

  • 52% of companies have not cut travel budgets for 2021
  • 64% anticipated increased support in local businesses and economy
  • 76% of companies expect for Domestic U.S. travel to resume within the next 6 months
  • 3% of companies expect for international travel to Europe to resume within the next 6 months


San Diego International Airport’s regional economic impact is vital for the economic and employment recovery efforts of the region. In 2017, SAN’s annual economic impact was valued at $11.8 billion-total amount that circulates back to the regional economy. SAN has taken the safety of travelers as a core pillar in its reopening efforts, assuring safety and tranquility for San Diegans to #flylocal and help economic recovery at home.


World Trade Center San Diego operates as an affiliate of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. WTC San Diego 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.

Do you want to know more about the work of World Trade Center San Diego? Click here to receive our monthly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.