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Regional jobs plan banks on close cross-border ties

SAN DIEGO — Taking advantage of trade opportunities and the nearby international border highlight a regional jobs strategy released by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

That part of the plan, created over nine months in partnership with dozens of area business and civic organizations, flies in the face of national political trends, in light of President Donald Trump’s demands to build a border wall and criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Chamber officials hope the strategy will align the efforts of the various groups in leveraging resources and initiatives.

“This work plan was built together with our partners in the business and civic community,” said Jerry Sanders, the chamber’s president and CEO. “The future success of this truly depends on the degree to which all involved take ownership and put it into action.”

The trade and international focus runs throughout the strategy, an outline of steps for local businesses and organizations to take advantage of the area’s strengths, improve on weaknesses and protect against threats. Some of the points involve what business leaders call “Cali-Baja,” or California and Baja California, with a particular focus on San Diego and Tijuana as one mega-region.

Among the steps outlined in the report:

  • promoting and reducing barriers to trade;
  • — improving the efficiency of the U.S.-Mexico border for the movement of both goods and people;
  • improving opportunities and capabilities for manufacturers in our region to export;
  • ensuring the “Cali-Baja” voice is heard in Washington D.C. and Mexico City regarding federal policy and regulations;
  • improving coordination of the business and broader community throughout the Cali-Baja region by promoting and supporting projects and programs that encourage cross-border trade, cultural understanding, academic exchange and relationships in the Cali-Baja region; and
  • improving consistency of data on industries and the issues that matter most for job creation throughout the Cali-Baja region.

The strategy also calls for increasing support for San Diego’s key industries, such as biotech, tourism and institutions of higher education; improving coordination and collaboration within the business community; reducing the cost of housing; and strengthening the connection between the education system and the workforce.

“There are great programs that are proven to create jobs all over our region,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “When we build on those successes, when we get more of the cities and businesses in the county working together, we can create an environment where our economy is working for all San Diegans.”

Other suggestions in the report include heightening cyber security, building on a culture of water conservation while investing in supply initiatives, making use of successful local programs and ensuring that businesses are taking advantage of local, state and federal incentives.