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Quality of Life: Looking Beyond our Beaches and into the Boardroom

The glittering Pacific Ocean, miles of breathtaking coastline, nearly year-round sunshine … I think we can all agree that our quality of life here in San Diego is pretty darn good.

At LEAD San Diego’s recent IMPACT session, the cohort explored our regional economy and discussed efforts underway to ensure San Diego maintains its above-par quality of life for residents. And it’s not just up to Mother Nature, but strategic thinkers like those at SANDAG, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and Equinox Center, who shared their efforts with the class.

One of the concepts that got me thinking was the subject of jobs and its impact on our quality of life. Contrary to the current political dialogue on unemployment, our discussion focused on how to attract and retain talent in San Diego to ensure we can compete globally and bolster our local economy.

Attracting smart people to work with global corporations in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S.? No problem, right? Well, it turns out there are some significant challenges.

Sean Barr from San Diego Economic Development Corporation explained that as we look at the future, talent is a significant barrier for attracting companies to San Diego, and his organization continues to fight the perception that our talent pool is primarily based in defense and tourism.

One IMPACT participant suggested that perhaps we’re better known as a laid-back vacation destination, rather than a major business hub and that perception may make it less appealing for companies looking to relocate.

It reminded me of a recent business trip to Chicago, where I was asked “Does anybody actually work in San Diego? Every time I’ve visited, everyone is at the beach. When do you guys get to work?”

So how do we improve that perception and broaden the definition of our business community? The current and future leaders of San Diego have a responsibility to ensure our actions work to promote a positive perception of our business community as a diverse, competitive, innovative and attractive place to do business. We should be focused on how we can bring public and private stakeholders together to improve our business community and shout our successes from the rooftops.

From jobs to transportation, to water quality and land use, it’s going to take a long-term commitment from all of us to ensure this vision for a sustainable quality of life can be fulfilled. Based on the passionate discussion among cohort participants, I’m confident we’re up for the challenge. Are you ready to do your part?

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