Primed for The Future: Growing San Diego’s Economy - Times of San Diego 7.29.14

San Diego is still recovering from one of the toughest recessions in America’s history. That’s why growing the economy and fostering an atmosphere for job creation must be the number one priority of Congress. It is mine.

Our region has three main economic drivers: innovation and scientific research; the military, defense, and our veterans; and our world-renowned tourism industry. As we find ways to expand economic opportunities for the middle class and plan for a prosperous future, we must focus in on areas where San Diego is already leading the way and can set an example for the rest of the country.

We’re fortunate that so many innovative companies and research institutions call San Diego home. According to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the innovation economy already employs 138,000 people. And, last year, San Diego’s institutions won $785 million in National Institutes of Health awards – 24 percent of California’s total.

Since taking office in January 2013, I’ve toured over 100 companies, research labs, and universities and have heard directly from business leaders and their employees about what Congress can do to grow the economy and create jobs. I’ve hosted roundtables and symposia with community leaders from BIOCOM, the San Diego EDC, CONNECT, UC San Diego, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and CleanTECH San Diego, to discuss how Washington can support San Diego’s scientific and innovation economy. I’ve also brought leaders from Washington — including Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — to showcase how San Diego’s collaborative culture among businesses, universities, and government can be a model for Washington.

San Diego is a proud military town. The military supports approximately 22 percent of all jobs in our region and delivers $32 billion in economic impact. We are perfectly positioned to take center stage as the national security apparatus shifts more toward the Pacific Ocean. Through my position on the House Armed Services Committee, I’m a strong advocate in Washington for the role San Diego plays in our national security. Earlier this year, working across the aisle with Rep. Duncan Hunter, I successfully moved $120M from an obsolete project in South Carolina to purchase additional unmanned aerial vehicles that were requested by the Air Force and designed and manufactured in Poway.

Our region is world-renowned for its natural beauty and abundant family-friendly attractions. Over 33 million people visit San Diego each year for our weather, local events, and unique activities. The San Diego EDC estimates that tourism is responsible for over 158,000 local jobs and $18.3 billion in annual economic impact. That’s why I support legislation to expedite the visa interview process which would increase the number of international tourists visiting the United States, many of whom will come to San Diego. The U.S. Travel Association estimates that this legislation would result in an additional 600,000 international visitors and create an additional 40,000 jobs in the tourism industry.

We have seen what happens when we work together. On the federal level, last year the whole San Diego delegation worked together to secure funding to finish phase 2 of the San Ysidro Port of Entry – imagine what we could do if the two parties in the entire Congress started really working together. Congress has many pressing issues from tax reform to immigration reform that need to be addressed and I hope to see more members leaving partisanship at the door and putting the country first.

I will continue to be focused on bringing San Diego’s collaborative, problem-solving attitude to Washington and showcasing our region’s talent to the rest of the country. With our work-force, natural surroundings, and military heritage, our region is primed for future growth. I hope you will read my full plan on growing San Diego’s economy and creating jobs across the country.