Hundreds of San Diego region's business leaders and public officials attended the 22nd annual South County Economic Development Council summit to discuss the its economic outlook.
Last Friday, leaders specifically discussed job growth, education, infrastructure and border trade with Mexico as significant factors in helping to grow a slow economy.
Parson Brinckerhoff president and CEO George Pierson said that while infrastructure is extremely competitive worldwide, he also said the San Diego region is a competitor.
“Locally, San Diego has a tremendous port and access to the Pacific Rim,” he said.
San Diego Workforce Partnership President and CEO Peter Callstrom said what’s needed is a call to action in job growth.
“We need more employers to step up and support hiring youth and veterans,” he said. “Those that are out of the workforce makes it significantly harder to get them employed.”
Former state senator Denise Ducheny talked about realizing the full value of the cross-border trade with its neighbor to the south.
She said that San Diego should realize the “true friendship value” with Mexico regarding tourism and cross-border trade.
“Trade creates jobs,” Ducheny said. “The economic value is hidden in plain sight.”
“Mexico is not a poor country,” Ducheny said. “They are the 12th largest economy in the world.”
Ducheny also said that Mexico has made itself very open to trade.
“Mexico is our No. 1 trading and exporting partner,” she said. “Our trade value with Mexico is greater as a nation then all our trade with the brick countries.”
Ducheny said San Diego’s prosperity depends on its ability to get things back and forth.
“In the future, Mexico’s economy will continue to grow more rapidly than the U.S.,” Ducheny said.
She added it’s anticipated Mexico will be ranked 7th by 2020, according to Goldman Sachs.
Local officials also discussed the future of its bi-national region and the biggest economic challenges that lay ahead.
Assembly member Ben Hueso said education is key.
“This year is about creating jobs in California,” Hueso said. “Our middle class is slipping in the U.S. and California. We need a strong, vibrant economy down the road … It’s about making California a competitive place to do business.”
Hueso also said that cross-border development is extremely crucial to the region.
“Mexico is very important to California’s economy,” he said. “Vibrant manufacturing is starting to take place in Mexico. We have to reach out to companies to build those connections. We have to serve as ambassadors to our region.”
National City Mayor Ron Morrison talked about a paradigm shift.
“We need to look at things in a new way,” he said. “I don’t think 2013 is as important as 2020. We don’t need to overreact to the economy and use Band Aids on it.”
Fifty-first district congressman Bob Filner said San Diego needs an effective border.
“The federal government does not seem to want an efficient border because they think long lines means we’re keeping out terrorists,” he said.
Filner addressed quality of life needs to a binational area.
“Crossing the border … helps us develop as human beings,” he said. “In a lot of place you have to be bilingual to get a job. This should be the most exciting place in the world.”