“Go Global 2025: San Diego’s Global Trade and Investment Initiative”, originally launched in 2015, is a program that aims to boost the county’s global competitiveness in a post-COVID economy. It places heavy focus on connections between foreign direct investments and international exports and the cohesive role the two sectors play in supporting regional economic development.
The revised strategic plan is in partnership with the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy at UC San Diego.
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Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego, said, in simplest terms, the ultimate goal is to increase trade and investment for the region and, as a result, improve the quality of life of San Diegans.
“There is so much uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, it made sense to revisit the strategic plan as we think of ways San Diego can take advantage of this moment to create more jobs and opportunities for the region,” said Clarke. “One of our main strategies is to double down on what we do best in San Diego, like life sciences, technology, air space and defense. We want to continue to lead with the region’s most competitive industries because facilitating trade and investment in those industries can create jobs in San Diego.”
Some of the city’s most competitive industries include scientific and technical services, like research and development, cybersecurity and engineering and software. As a result, these same areas “capture the highest concentration of foreign direct investment via mergers and acquisitions and venture capital investment,” according to the organization. In 2020, for example, San Diego life sciences firms captured nearly three-quarters of the estimated $3 billion in foreign investments injected into the local economy.
More specifically, San Diego exports $22 million in goods annually and is a top 10 services exporter among U.S. metros, said Clarke. In 2020, $3 billion in foreign investment came into San Diego, of which 73% were in life sciences, and $46 billion was imported to San Diego.
“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,” said Clarke. “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. 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.”
Maritza Diaz, CEO of ITJuana LLC, a San Marcos-based company that aims to provide software engineering for companies in San Diego, is a member of the World Trade Center and is collaborating on the “Go Global 2025” effort. She believes a major part of the region’s economic recovery will be as a result of the digitization of San Diego-based corporations.
“With COVID-19, only companies that are digitally-ready will survive, which means lots more demand for this type of talent,” said Diaz, who launched ITJuana, with over 300 employees, in 2019. “We can’t compete with Google, Facebook of the world. Companies in San Diego and other parts of the world struggle to hire and we come and provide double the pipeline. With an office in Tijuana, the cross-border aspect is super important as it is valued at $2.5 billion. For every dollar invested in Tijuana, that money returns back to our economy almost immediately because our software professionals in Tijuana come to the U.S. to shop, dine and entertain. So, they spend their money here.”
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