Maintaining and Enhancing A Vibrant Economy

DATE: April 4, 2000
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT:Maintaining and Enhancing A Vibrant Economy: Attracting More High Technology and Biotechnology Companies, Jobs and Technology-trained Professionals to the San Diego Region

SUMMARY:
This proposal asks the Board of Supervisors to invest $100,000 in the economic future of the San Diego region by providing partial funding for a nationwide marketing program to increase the number of high technology and biotechnology companies and jobs in the region.

Recommendation: 
Supervisor Slater and Chairwoman Jacob:

1. Commit to a $100,000 allocation to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation to undertake an aggressive marketing and "branding" campaign to increase the number of high technology and biotechnology companies and jobs in the region; refer the release of the funds to budget.

Fiscal Impact: 
Funds for this request are not budgeted. The funding source is the general fund. Today's decision for adoption refers the release of the funds to budget.

BACKGROUND: 
For several years the San Diego region has been in transition, moving from a service-based and military-based economy to a competitive, high-technology center. This transition was not easy. Local leaders recognized that San Diego County could no longer rely upon the military, tourism and farming to carry our economy into the future. Careful, detailed planning and a united effort among all governmental agencies, local economic development corporations, chambers of commerce and community leaders was needed for our economy to diversify and prosper. Now the region is home to a growing high technology and biotechnology base.

But maintaining and enhancing a vibrant economy means planning well for the future. It means we must adopt an aggressive, united effort to continue to promote the San Diego region as a center for high technology and biotechnology firms. And it means developing an unparalleled, cooperative approach to maintain an edge over the competition - other cities vying for the same high technology companies.

The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has developed a plan to meet this goal, titled, San Diego: Technology's Perfect Climate. This program undertakes an aggressive effort to promote the region's unique attributes as a technology center, focusing promotion outside of San Diego County. This is accomplished through paid media and other marketing opportunities. The campaign is designed to generate the most impact on a limited budget by targeting industry publications and events, reaching the decision-makers, investors and employees in the industry. The promotion campaign also helps to prompt "free media" coverage for San Diego County.

Like the Board of Supervisors, EDC recognizes that high technology and biotechnology firms provide good jobs and a strong tax base. It is also clear that regions are increasingly identified as a desirable location to do business if the region offers a critical mass of technology companies, because companies partner and "feed off" one another. Personnel officers of such companies find that they are better able to recruit highly sought after scientists and engineers when high-tech and bio-tech firms are clustered.

Therefore, world-renowned name recognition and "branding" as a technologically-based region works to entice high technology and biotechnology firms to locate to the area. Obviously, this increases the number of high paying jobs. Although San Diego County has name recognition and "branding" as a region offering unmatched quality of life, including a wonderful climate, the region must work harder to solidify a reputation as a high technology and biotechnology center. Hence, EDC launched a nationwide "branding" campaign.

Many of San Diego County's competitors have launched similar campaigns. The City of Orange County and the City of Sacramento launched "branding" efforts. The City of Los Angeles kicked off a "Digital Coast" effort in 1998, establishing a staffed organization and nationwide marketing campaign to deliver the message that Los Angeles is the high technology center of Southern California. The Orange County Business Council and other Orange County business groups have attempted to "brand" their region as the "Tech Coast" and the "epicenter" for Southern California growth. With a comparatively modest investment toward a coordinated marketing campaign, San Diego County can position itself as the state's leader in enticing high technology and bio technology firms to the area.

To date, EDC has received $219,000 in commitments from the City of San Diego, trade associations, subregional EDCs and other municipalities. As soon as the EDC surpasses $300,000 in donations - which the County's commitment would accomplish - the Port of San Diego will commit an additional $50,000.

We recommend that EDC work closely with other business groups to accomplish their goals of a coordinated, national marketing campaign. Other local EDCs have developed new tools to attract high technology businesses to the region. One example is the East County EDC's Connectory web site which allows businesses to link up using the internet. The Board of Supervisors established the Office of Trade and Business Development which has accomplished a great deal in helping to entice new businesses to the region, especially in Sorrento Valley, Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad and 4S Ranch. Expectations are that Santee will also be an attractive site for high technology and biotechnology firms.

We feel that to maintain and grow San Diego County's competitive edge in the high technology and biotechnology field - to increase the number of high value jobs available to our citizens, and to enhance and diversify our economy long into the future - the Board of Supervisors must support this investment in the region. Planning now for a strong, stable and diverse economic future is a Board of Supervisors' imperative.

Sincerely,

DIANNE JACOB
Chairwoman

PAM SLATER
Third District