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New Report Finds SPAWAR Plays Important Role In San Diego’s Economy

A new economic impact report finds the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, better known as SPAWAR, plays a key role in San Diego’s economy. The unit is a Navy department, but it acts like a major corporation.

A new economic report finds SPAWAR pumps more than $1.7 billion into the San Diego economy.

SPAWAR has nearly 10,000 employees, and close to 5,000 of them work in San Diego developing the hardware and software that keeps naval forces connected. Adm. Patrick Brady is in charge of the mostly civilian workforce.

"When you think Navy you usually think of these aircraft carriers, these submarines. The surface ships in the area. And I think the average person doesn't think about an organization that is about 94 percent civilians,” Brady said.

The Navy research arm of SPAWAR is a hub for the region’s cyber security sector. SPAWAR farms out work and uses local companies to develop their technology. The business pumps more than $1.7 billion into the San Diego economy.

"We're making sure that the war fighter is connected no matter where they're at in the world. Which is quite the challenge if you really think of the Navy as the nation's away team,” Brady said.

The San Diego Military Advisory Council commissioned the study by the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute and Point Loma Nazarene University. Economist Lynn Reaser worked on the report, and said SPAWAR would be the region’s 12th largest company if it were a commercial enterprise.

"Because of the direct economic impact it brings to the region, $2.5 billion a year. That amounts to over $2,000 for every household in San Diego County,” Reaser said.

The study also found the company is directly and indirectly responsible for 19,000 jobs in the region, and plays an important role for the Navy. However, Reaser said that doesn’t protect SPAWAR from congressional budget cuts.

“The nation and the military have given a lot of focus to, particularly recently, cyber security, innovation and maintain a lead in technology,” Reaser said. “One would think that SPAWAR would be totally immune from all these budget cuts but that is not the case and in fact we're looking for, probably a 2.5 percent decline in SPAWAR funding next year.”

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