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Report: San Diego Must Address Inequality For Economic Growth


Researchers at the University of Southern California call for increased collaboration with low-income and minority communities in San Diego to boost the local economy.

Economic growth in San Diego hinges on decreasing inequality and harnessing local diversity, according to a report released Wednesday.

Researchers at the University of Southern California called San Diego a potential “model for today’s rapidly-changing American cities and tomorrow’s global economy.”

But the road to prosperity requires getting low-income and minority communities involved in issues ranging from education to the environment, the report said.

The report, "Linking Innovation With Inclusion," also said San Diego needs greater immigrant integration and collaboration with Tijuana stakeholders.

Researchers outlined multiple strategies that revolve around lessening ethnic and geographic dividing lines, such as the U.S.-Mexico border and the I-8 Freeway, which separates low-income communities of southern San Diego from wealthier ones to the north.

“San Diego, once fragmented by economic, political, and geographical dividing lines, can become a region of networks that synergizes its parts into a greater whole,” the report said.

The USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity report cited the median age for San Diego’s Latino and black populations: 27 and 33, respectively. That’s compared with the median age for the local white population: 42.

The racial generation gap suggests the workforce of the future will be more diverse, according to the report. It said officials must increase how much weight they give to these changing demographics in their policy-making. The states with wider racial generation gaps, such as Arizona and California, tend to spend less on public education than states where the gaps are less pronounced.

"It is as though the older generation no longer sees itself in the younger generation and wields its political power for the present and past, and not for the future," the report said.

San Diego's racial generation gap is the 20th highest among the biggest 150 U.S. cities.

Diane Takvorian, executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition, said her group has already been implementing the strategies recommended in the report.

“We have to start to recognize that diversity is a strength and I think in our past we may not have seen it that way,” Takvorian said.

Her group has pushed for more transportation options for low-income and minority communities. The report cited the 50-10 Urban Transit Investment Plan as an example of an effort that will boost the economy of San Diego overall.

“We need to look at it both from a human rights perspective as well as from an economic opportunity perspective,” Takvorian said.


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