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Experts Weigh In on Likely 2023 Economic Trends

What is the outlook for 2023? Mark Cafferty can’t call it quite yet.

Mark Cafferty
President and CEO
San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation

News of the next 12 months ought to be interesting and there is plenty of potential. Still, the San Diego business leader is hesitant to make any blanket statement. After all, the new year is not even two weeks old.

The talk of recession and inflation is inescapable, but there are many positive things happening with San Diego companies. Cafferty, who is president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, sees growth at small and mid-size firms. The federal government, for its part, plans huge investments that will bolster the regional economy.

“I feel pretty optimistic that San Diego will do better than the rest of the nation in 2023,” the CEO said.

Registration Now Open

In two weeks, Cafferty will make a return appearance to moderate a panel of six experts who will discuss the outlook for San Diego’s corner of the world.

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The San Diego Business Journal will present Economic Trends 2023 on Tuesday, Jan. 31. The event is scheduled to run from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the new offices of Deloitte, 12830 El Camino Real, Suite 600, in San Diego.

Breakfast will be served, buffet style.

Tickets are available at sdbj.com/events

A Variety of Perspectives

Seeing the coming year through the specialized lenses of the panelists is always a highlight of the program, Cafferty said.

Panelists for the event include the following:

Tracey Best, benefits practice group leader and partner with C3 Risk & Insurance Services. She will discuss economic forces in the insurance markets post-COVID as well as changes to employee culture in the work-from-home era. What she calls “quiet disconnection” could become as common as quiet quitting. Best is a repeat panelist, and will return to her 2022 theme of sending clear messages to potential employees while making benefits easy for current employees.

Kerry Forde, chief operating officer and interim chief nurse executive with Kaiser Permanente, San Diego. Forde will discuss the community’s healthcare needs this winter, including mental health care, as well as staffing challenges faced by executives in her field. Some 36 months’ worth of insights from San Diego’s network of healthcare organizations will inform her talk.

James E. Glassman, managing director with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and head economist with its commercial bank. Glassman will discuss how small and midsize businesses have responded to the challenges of the day, including inflation, as well as their perceived exposure to global economic forces and their outlook on a possible recession.

Julie Lowen, founder and CEO of Children’s Paradise Preschool and Infant Centers. Lowen will discuss the upside of businesses funding child care options for their employees. She will also talk about ways reimagine the child care system, and how to build on current models of child care to benefit more members of the community.

Juli Moran, San Diego office managing partner for Deloitte. Moran will offer a snapshot of San Diego’s life science community and discuss business reaction to recent economic events such as supply chain snags. She will also take apart the phenomenon of inflation, including how it has slowed in recent months, as well as the response from the Fed. Moran is another returning panelist.

Miguel Motta, vice president for strategic operations and San Diego head of Biocom California. Motta will discuss the life science industry and its contributions to the wider community. Policy issues for the industry—including funding, regulation and the availability of water—are many. Motta will also have insights gleaned from other experts during one of the leading conferences on healthcare earlier in January.

As in past events, panelists will participate in a lively give and take with Cafferty moderating.

Cafferty describes himself as a father, husband and promoter of all things San Diego. The Boston native steers the San Diego Regional EDC, described as a unique collaboration of business, trade, community and education leaders who have redefined the region’s economic development strategy. The EDC’s goal has been to make the region a key stakeholder in the global economy.

Cafferty has spent more than 25 years designing systems to support career advancement and economic opportunity for American workers. He has served in numerous public-sector leadership positions and has been sought as a consultant on workforce development efforts throughout the country.

Looking Over the Landscape

The Jan. 31 event will consider the employer, the employee, the people who provide capital, the people in government and more – all against the backdrop of the San Diego economy.

Just how massive is this economy, and how much potential does it have in the coming year?

Look at a map of the region and imagine a helicopter flight over the landscape.

Begin over San Diego Bay, with its U.S. Navy ships and facilities in San Diego, Point Loma, Coronado and the Silver Strand. There are facilities for ships and aircraft, labs for high tech electronics, information technology and cybersecurity. The Port of San Diego handles imports and exports such as bananas, windmill blades and automobiles.

Head north over Mission Beach, Mission Bay and Pacific Beach to get an idea of the recreation that draws so many tourists, and drives the hospitality industry. La Jolla features some of the best examples of San Diego real estate. UC San Diego, together with labs and businesses on Torrey Pines Mesa and Carmel Valley, show San Diego as a life science powerhouse. The number of law firms shows the strength of San Diego as a center of intellectual property. Not to be forgotten are the banks and venture capital operations.

The greenhouse could be a symbol for North County San Diego; while the region still has a strong agricultural bent, there are emerging tech clusters. Rancho Bernardo and Poway have become centers for aerospace. Desirable housing is available up and down the county, and small business serves those neighborhoods. A long detour south will show Otay Mesa and the international border, with its binational manufacturing industry and warehouses, all showing the strength of international trade.

Challenge and Opportunity

There are challenges that come with success.

Today, San Diego is experiencing outmigration. Housing affordability is a concern, Cafferty said in an early January interview. In San Diego County, fewer than 1 in 7 households can afford a median-priced home. For many people, it is a challenge to view San Diego as a place where they can stay in the long term.

Other numbers are more upbeat.

By now, the region’s employment has recovered from impact of the pandemic, Cafferty said. Unemployment spiked with the arrival of COVID, but the jobless rate now hovers at 3.3%. The ratio of talent supply to demand is at the lowest it has been in 15 years. Workforce scarcity is the new norm.

With such an employment picture, employers are trying to figure out how to invest in the long term, Cafferty said.

Venture capital is strong. As usual, small and mid-size firms are acting as engines for growth. A series of federal government initiatives has the potential to boost the economy.

A person might consider 2023 to be an unfinished jigsaw puzzle.

The goal of this year’s Economic Trends conference is to help the audience make a more sense of the puzzle pieces, and ideally, see a little bit more of the picture.

Registration is open for Economic Trends 2023, and seating will be limited. Visit sdbj.com/events for tickets.

Mark Cafferty Bio

As president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Mark Cafferty sits at the center of a unique collaboration of business, trade, community and education leaders who have redefined the region’s economic development strategy, cementing the region as a key stakeholder in the global economy.

Cafferty has spent more than 25 years designing systems to support career advancement and economic opportunity for American workers. He has served in numerous public-sector leadership positions and has been sought as a consultant on workforce development efforts throughout the country.

A Boston native who now considers San Diego home, he earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications from Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and his advanced certification in Performance Measurement and Non-Profit Management from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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