Business Leaders Discuss What They Want From San Diego’s Next Mayor
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Aired 9/19/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Vincent Mudd, president and owner, San Diego Office Interiors.
Disclosure: San Diego Office Interiors is an underwriter of KPBS.
Camille Sobrian Saltman, president, CONNECT.
Special Feature What Makes a Great Nation?
Using just six words, can you describe what makes a country great?
What could make San Diego better? Every sector of the city has its own ideas.
In the next two weeks, KPBS will be checking in with different segments of the San Diego community about what they are looking for in a new mayor and a new administration.
Mudd, also immediate past chair of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and chair-elect at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, said business owners are not happy with the time it takes the city to approve permits.
"There's too much discretionary approvals, too many discretionary processes, and we'd like to see more ministerial processes, which is like a checklist saying, 'I'll tell you in advance what you need to do, if you do it, you have your permit, or your process, or whatever it is you need,'" he said. "If we can do that, it would help businesses go a lot faster."
Sobrian Saltman said the region's 6,000 life sciences companies can do business anywhere in the world.
"If they're looking at countries like Taiwan where it can take six months to get approval, whereas in San Diego it might take six years, they're going to choose to go offshore," she said. "Because innovation moves very fast and they can't afford to wait."
A recent report found San Diego is the least expensive big city in California to do business, but Mudd said that does not apply to all businesses.
"If you have a call center, it's very expensive," he said. "Because energy costs a lot, employees cost a lot, real estate costs a lot."
He said businesses are looking for more than the cheapest place to operate--they want areas that encourage growth and innovation. He added that some companies can locate themselves anywhere in the country, so if we make it difficult for them, "they're gone."
"We have to make sure those companies have a way to do business in San Diego," he said.
Sobrian Saltman said the next mayor can make a "friendly environment" for businesses in San Diego. She said as it becomes more expensive to offshore manufacturing, San Diego should encourage manufacturing companies to locate themselves here.
Mudd said he would like the next mayor to continue to focus on areas like cross-border trade and the enterprise zone in northern San Diego.
"Spend your time helping us do that and less time on the politics of everything," he said.
Disclosure: San Diego Office Interiors is an underwriter of KPBS. Claire Trageser contributed to this report.