California’s second largest city and the United States’ eighth largest, San Diego boasts a citywide population of nearly 1.3 million residents and more than 3.1 million residents countywide. It is forecast to grow to 3.9 million people by the year 2030. Within its borders of 4,200 sq. miles, San Diego County encompasses
18 incorporated cities and numerous other neighborhoods and communities. San Diego’s economy has diversified since its roots as a military town in WWII. The region is now a thriving hub for the biotech and telecommunications industries. San Diego is also an important manufacturing hub and a popular travel destination, making it one of the most sought after investment markets in the nation. These attributes place San Diego on a solid footing for healthy growth going forward. San Diego has geographical boundaries on all four sides: Camp Pendleton to the north, mountains to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and Mexico to the south. As the City’s population continues to grow, it will bump up against these fixed limits and well located industrial product will be in short supply.
San Diego’s economic vitality is the result of a number of highly diversified employment groups:
• The technology sector, including medical, biotech, communication, research, and development
• The defense and military industry
• A multi-university educational system
• Mexican and international trade
• The port of San Diego
• Flourishing Naval and commercial ship building and ship repair, and construction resulting from military expansion
San Diego has the third largest cluster of biotechnology companies in the nation, trailing only the San Francisco Bay area and New England region. Two factors are the driving forces for a region’s growth in the biotechnology industry: an excellent research community and the supply of capital. Surveys of biotechnology company executives say that proximity to key academic institutions is the most important factor in determining where they will locate. The universities are an essential source of research and technological breakthroughs, and they supply a well-trained labor force.
A high quality of life and a favorable business and regulatory environment to high-tech industries are also essential to foster biotechnology’s growth. San Diego possesses these qualities in abundance. The local agglomeration of highly regarded research centers and companies significantly stimulate San Diego’s biotechnology community. The high quality of life, supportive local government, and CONNECT, a technology transfer program associated with the University of California-San Diego, have driven the local biotech industries development.
San Diego continues to be a leader in the defense industry which contributes over $20 billion to the San Diego economy. The US Navy contributes almost $13 billion annually through its San Diego “Megaport”. San Diego is also home to the US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) with 800+ employees and an annual budget of over $4 billion. All companies that contract with SPAWAR must have a San Diego presence, which has enhanced the critical mass of high-tech, electronic, and systems integration companies located in the area. The US Marine Corps has two significant operations in San Diego, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, where in excess of $1.6 billion in construction projects are underway.
Along with its reputation as a defense and high technology center, San Diego is equally well known for its beautiful beaches, world famous zoo, and Sea World. Tourism is San Diego’s third largest industry with a regional economic impact of more than $5.5 billion annually and an employment base of more than 200,000. The expansion of the San Diego Convention Center to 1.7 million square feet has put it in the top 5 convention venues in the nation. The San Diego Padres’ Petco Park is the centerpiece of the revitalized downtown which has witnessed a flurry of development totaling over $2 billion in office, hotel, condo, and retail. San Diego has developed many tourist attractions to augment its almost perfect climate and beautiful natural scenery, including Sea World, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Balboa Park and its numerous cultural facilities, Seaport Village, Old Town, the Gaslamp Quarter, and Horton Plaza. Numerous resorts and recreational facilities are located throughout the metropolitan area. Visitors continue to come in ever-larger numbers.
Manufacturing continues to be an important part of the San Diego region’s economy. Major types of manufacturing include telecommunication components, shipbuilding and repair, industrial machinery and computers, metals production, and sporting goods. In order to provide area employers such as Qualcomm, Uniden, General Dynamics/NASSCO and the biotech industry with engineering and science degree graduates, the University of California-San Diego, San Diego State University, and the University of San Diego have greatly expanded their technical and science programs.