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Military Economic Impact in San Diego

Even if you aren’t originally from the San Diego area, you can guess that San Diego has a large military presence (we’ve all been to the USS Midway Museum). But did you know that San Diego is home to the largest concentration of U.S. military personnel in the world? In fact, San Diego is home to 1 of every 6 sailors and home to 1 of every 4 Marines. And San Diego is the homeport to more than 70 ships.

While the pandemic subjected our region’s economy to drastic changes and uncertainty, San Diego benefited from the positive economic impact of our region’s large military presence, remaining resilient through unprecedented times.

While many sectors, specifically tourism and education, took a significant hit during the pandemic, San Diego’s military presence continued to grow. In fact, defense spending accounts for more than 340,000 jobs in the San Diego region.

The military directly employs 148,000 San Diego residents across more than 20 facilities. Approximately 75% are active-duty military personnel and 20% are civilians. Additionally, defense contracts generate more than 201,000 jobs for San Diego distributed between more than 1,700 companies. Together, these employment opportunities make up a quarter of the current San Diego labor force and economy.

Outside of active military spending, branches distribute retirement funds to previous military employees across San Diego County through Veterans Affairs, and their families through the GI Bill.

Other than economic spending, our region’s military presence provides opportunities for tourism, with more than 14 public military events and places to visit in the San Diego area, including the Air and Space Museum, Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial and Cabrillo National Monument.

Throughout its history, NST has worked on several military projects, including Fleet Week San Diego, a series of events designed to honor military personnel for their dedication on the battlefield and in their community. We also worked with the Veterans Research Corporation to help raise funds for local medical research addressing the unique health concerns of veterans. And, in 2012, we helped promote the San Diego County Veterans Day Parade.

We are honored to have worked with the military on a variety of projects over the years and look forward to many more for years to come. We want to thank all veterans for their service – including our very own Tom Gable, an army veteran of Vietnam – as well as the active-duty military men and women serving our country.

Author’s Note

Information featured above was discussed during LEAD San Diego’s Impact program, a flagship professional development program for mid- to senior-level managers affiliated with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Impact program includes monthly, full-day workshops that focus on the industries that power San Diego and the issues our community may face.

Leading by example, several staff members and all our Leadership Team have completed LEAD San Diego’s Impact program, and Price Adams, executive vice president and partner, has also completed LEAD San Diego’s Advance Program, a seven-month course designed to address the gender gap in the C-suite and boardroom by empowering women leaders to leverage their strengths to make an impact in their personal lives, careers and communities.

A special thank you to San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC), a non-profit mutual benefit corporation formed to educate and advocate on behalf of the military, those who serve or have served, and the defense community in the San Diego region.

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