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Organization Looks to Add 1,500 High-Wage Jobs to Region’s Economy

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Aired 2/21/11

Job growth is expected to pick up in San Diego County this year and one organization wants to help drive that growth by attracting high-salary positions to the region.

— Local economists expect San Diego County could add up to 18,000 jobs this year. The San Diego Economic Development Corporation plans to make sure at least 1,500 of those jobs are high-wage earning positions brought to the region through their initiatives.

The business-advocacy group has hired three new executives to step up efforts help companies stay in San Diego and grow here, and to bring new companies to the region.

The corporation is working with more than 20 businesses that are looking to expand or relocate here; they include organizations ranging from Motorola Mobility to a dental school, according to CEOP Julie Meier Wright. It can take a variety of efforts to bring any single company to the region.

“From helping them locate a site to helping them get through the permitting processes, to introducing them to service providers like banks, accountants they might need to meet coming into our region,” she said.

By focusing on businesses with high-earning employees, Meier Wright said the corporation’s efforts could have benefits for the broader local economy.

“For example, you have law firms and accounting firms and restaurants and hotels and others whose business grows when you have a healthy economy that is attracting high-wage jobs,” Wright said.

But, not all high-earning positions can spur wider growth, according to Marney Cox. He is chief economist for the San Diego Association of Governments. A new or growing company’s effect depends on how integrated it is with the local economy, Cox said.

That means how dependent a company is on goods supplied by other local firms, and "how many goods it sells locally versus outside the region,” Cox said. If you’re choosing correctly and you’re successful, pretty small numbers of jobs can have some pretty wild and significant impacts.”

Studies show efforts to aid business expansion are generally more successful in driving economic growth than efforts to attract new businesses, according to Cox.

Helping one large company be successful can attract related businesses to the region because the infrastructure and support they need is already in place.

“Labor force similarities that you need are all available, so you are able to get a lot more done a lot more quickly, and less expensively, if you’re around a lot of firms that are similar to yours,” said Cox.

With the county’s unemployment rate at 10.4 percent, Meier Wright said anyone could be encouraged by the uptick her organization is seeing in expansion and relocation efforts.

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