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CHAPTER 3 San Diegans Make Choices about Their Future

The Region’s History of Innovation San Diego has a long history of innovation. E.W. Scripps built the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Reuben H. Fleet built fighter planes that helped win World War II. Roger Revelle envisioned and helped found a new research university – the University of California, San Diego. Jonas Salk built the Salk Institute and transformed science with the first safe and effective polio vaccine. Irwin Jacobs further developed CDMA technology and helped launch wireless communications. Ivor Royston came to study biology and launched a biotech industry. Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist Charles David Keeling documented carbon dioxide increase with its potential to cause climate change. Craig Venter was among the first to create a synthetic life form.

This diversified economic base has, until recently, allowed the region’s economy to grow faster than the state’s and meet the needs of its growing population, even as affordability diminished during later decades. By 2005, however, the region’s economy was growing no faster than the sluggish California economy, and experienced even more severe job losses during the recession. During the 2000s, the region’s population grew by more than 280,000, while the region added only 33,000 jobs. It should have added nearly 120,000 new jobs to maintain the balance of residents and jobs. The region’s economy faces significant long-term challenges, including the high cost of doing business and the high cost of housing, lackluster educational attainment and workforce training, inadequate infrastructure, and inability to make difficult economic decisions. The San Diego region continues to have a strong economic foundation and tremendous opportunities to grow, but must address these challenges in order to ensure that enough high-quality jobs exist tomorrow.

Presenting Choices to the Public Participants ranked a series of strategies according to their importance. These strategies represented different – although not mutually exclusive – paths to achieve a prosperous economy and high-quality jobs. Participants were also asked to rank a set of specific action items according to their potential positive impacts.

Show Your Love Results Not surprisingly, San Diegans want to ensure that they and local businesses benefit from economic growth. Participants further recognized the value of retaining and strengthening the region’s three major traded economies, but also recognized a unique opportunity to grow the region’s innovation economy. While we must work hard to maintain and grow the positive impacts of the military and tourism, and grow them where possible, the greatest potential for economic growth is likely in the innovation economy. The top action items reinforce the public’s desire to ensure that economic development benefits the region’s residents. San Diegans want a better commute, access to jobs, a broader spectrum of job opportunities including manufacturing, and programs that enable residents and local businesses to participate in economic growth. Together, the preferred strategies help clarify priorities and the context for economic development initiatives.


Our Greater San Diego Vision

Our Greater San Diego Vision-Full Report  

San Diego County is a vast area of more than4,500 square miles, larger than the states of RhodeIsland and Delaware combined. The region isho...

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