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Stimulus Spending Created 2,000 San Diego Jobs at End of 2010

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Aired 2/10/11

About $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funding has been slated for San Diego County since the program started in February 2009. The money has supported about 2,100 projects in the region.

— Rail system upgrades, neurological research, invasive-plant eradication.

Those were just a few of the projects funded with federal stimulus money in San Diego County last year. About $2.4 billion has been directed to the county since the program began in February 2009.

At the end of last year, 2,148 San Diego County projects had been funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those projects generated 2,045 jobs during the final quarter of last year, according to Recovery.gov.

Two thousand jobs may not seem like a lot in a county that lost about 70,000 to the recession. But Marney Cox, chief economist for San Diego Association of Governments, said it’s significant when compared to another short-term economist boost.

“It would be like eight, nine Super Bowls,” he said. “So that’s significant if you think about all of the effort that goes into trying to attract Super Bowls here to the San Diego area and along comes a program that’s worth nine of them.”

Some of the largest grants and contracts in the region include transportation projects, like rail-system upgrades, and a new hospital at Camp Pendleton. The money has also gone toward medical and scientific research and plugging budget gaps at state and local government agencies.

Those agencies could be particularly squeezed by the end of stimulus spending, according to Cox, especially if the state’s temporary sales tax and vehicle-license-fee increases are allowed to expire around the same time.

In the grand scheme of things, the amount of money brought into the county by the recovery act may seem like a drop in the bucket.

“It has provided some positive effects,” said Lynn Reaser, chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University. “But they are really small in comparison to the general size of the economy. Our ability to grow will depend on business and consumer confidence.”

The San Diego Association of Governments estimates the county’s economy totals about $170 billion.

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