San Diego WTC: Q1 Global Competitiveness Council Virtual Meeting

On April 1st, as the world collectively battles a pandemic and the global economy faces some of the most significant disruptions in a generation, the San Diego World Trade Center continued in its leadership role in helping the Cali-Baja regional economy at the WTC San Diego: Q1 Global Competitiveness Council Virtual Meeting.

Alongside San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and U.S. Congressman Scott Peters, the WTC presented key findings from their revised strategic plan to the Council and demonstrated that global trade and investment in the region remains healthy, is poised to increase, and has helped San Diego remain resilient in these uncertain times. The WTCSD proposes five key strategies for the San Diego region:

  1. Lead with the region’s most competitive industries and anticipate most growth and job creation will come from the region’s leading innovation–based industries.
  2. Leverage binational assets to attract foreign investment. Capture investment along the entire value chain in priority industries.
  3. Prioritize market access for small businesses. Small businesses create the most jobs but face higher barriers to internationalization.
  4. Invest in critical infrastructure that enables global commerce. Modernize, maintain and expand service through international ports of entry.
  5. Enhance San Diego’s global identity and reputation for innovation. 
  6. Deepen public-private partnerships focused on international activity.

With an outstanding speaker lineup including, Garry Ridge, Chairman of the Board & CEO, WD-40; Kathleen Lynch, Vice President, Global Government Affairs & Public Policy, Illumina; Maritza Diaz, CEO, ITJ; and Dr. Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, General Atomics Global, the Council meeting attendees were able to hear first-hand insights from executives of some of San Diego’s most prominent companies on how the COVID-19 “next-normal” has impacted their industries and what that means for global growth in the years ahead.

One important theme was how San Diego’s strategic location—just across the border of the fast-growing Mexican city Tijuana – presents a perfect opportunity to leverage binational assets to attract further foreign investment giving the  mega-region a tremendous boost as we begin to exit the pandemic crisis. In the words of Mayor Todd Gloria:

“San Diego is filled with world-class innovation and smart people solving global problems. Now is the time for our big, binational City to show up on the world stage to help us reach our goals faster” 

The Cali-Baja region can house the entire value chain for advanced industries—from corporate functions to R&D, to cost-effective production and distribution—all in just one time-zone, and within an hour’s drive. At a time of significant global supply chain disruption, the region can showcase its $2.5 billion cross-border supply chain, facilitate opportunities for binational expansion, and capture market-seeking investment along the entire value chain in priority industries.

On that note, Maritza Diaz, CEO of ITJ and a thought leader in the field of cross-border collaboration, highlighted the potential of the Cali-Baja region due to the growing digital transformation that the area is experimenting to overcome the challenges brought by COVID-19.

“[…] companies that were not digital-ready did not survive; that highlights the importance of software and digital talent. Within the Cali-Baja region, the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation. We see an opportunity for San Diego to leverage this talent now as the digital transformation is here and it’s now. I’m really excited about this unique opportunity and I know it will be leveraged for both sides of the border. We will be the Mega-region, we should be.”

The region’s competitive advantage is in professional, scientific, and technical services, like research and development, cybersecurity, and engineering and software. These industries also capture the highest concentration of foreign direct investment (FDI) via mergers and acquisitions and venture capital investment.

By the end of the Virtual Meeting, something was more than clear: San Diego’s economic evolution has demonstrated that global competitiveness and domestic resilience reinforce each other. There are good reasons for nations to turn inward and focus on domestic needs, and yet, if this year has taught us anything, it is that we are a global society that is inextricably connected. 

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