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Sanders discusses SD opportunities with NAIOP Developing Leaders

Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders spoke to NAIOP Developing Leaders on Wednesday about opportunities and uncertainties in San Diego that may affect business leaders.

“I think the border is the biggest untapped resource of jobs, prosperity and opportunity that there is in San Diego,” said Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, at a Lunch & Learn event at Campus Point-Green Acres in San Diego.

He said there are 50,000 cars and 25,000 pedestrians that cross the border every day, and $7 billion in sales tax, tourism and trade crosses the border north each year to the San Diego region. About $1 billion moves south, he said, adding that leaves about $7 billion and 62,000 jobs on the table.

“The day we get the border squared away, there will be 62,000 jobs created in the San Diego region,” Sanders said.

San Diego has been branded a mega-region with Baja California, which Sanders said has “the most sophisticated manufacturing” that can be found. Forty percent of every product produced in Baja California comes from the San Diego region, which has a “huge impact” on the region.

Sanders is working on clearing up truck traffic going south. A new freeway in Otay Mesa could cut wait time for trucks down to 20 minutes, he said. Sanders added that he’s hoping to make progress on a cross-border railroad, which would also reduce the number of trucks on the freeways.

A cross-border terminal will allow travelers to park in the U.S. and walk over a bridge to Rodriguez International Airport -- and it should be completed one year after it breaks ground, he said.

Other opportunities in San Diego exist in wireless health -- and San Diego has become a destination for people who need to have surgeries or cancer treatment, he said. There are 82 research institutions in San Diego, with “new discoveries spun out every day.”

When Sanders was elected mayor, there were seven breweries in the area, and today there are about 100. For every one job in breweries, there is a multiplier of 5.2 jobs elsewhere.

It’s a tourism draw, with visitors taking buses on brew tours – those same visitors who are also spending money and staying in hotels, he said.

One uncertainty in the region is the linkage fee in the city of San Diego, which was rescinded by the City Council. The linkage fee, which charges developers to pay for affordable housing based on the creation of low-income jobs per square foot of development projects, would have been increased by about 500 percent had it not been rescinded.

A long-term solution has yet to be renegotiated. Sanders said he’s working to renegotiate with affordable housing to find a solution that requires everyone to pay, not just one group.

One company told Sanders that it had planned on expanding from 240 engineers to 600 engineers, but that the new fee would have cost the company an additional $300,000 to expand.

Sanders also discussed how state practices may not be driving companies to relocate the entire business here, but may be causing them to build manufacturing facilities where there are promises of cheap electricity, cheap water and tax breaks.

At the county level, Sanders said, Mayor Kevin Faulconer has discussed streamlining the system to provide time certainty for developments so a business isn’t wasting money on projects languishing because an employee went on leave.

“There has to be those types of certainty,” Sanders said.

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San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Company Website

402 West Broadway Ste., 1000
San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive(s):

Jerry Sanders

  • Chief Executive Officer, President

Ruben Barrales

  • Chief Executive Officer

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