San Diego doesn’t seem like a hard sell right off the bat. But pitching the city as an ideal place to move a company can be tough, for a variety of reasons.

Mark Cafferty is chief executive of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, which means he and his team lead the way in coaxing businesses far and wide to call San Diego home. It’s a different gig than that of the Tourism Marketing District, which funds efforts to draw visitors. And a few looming developments in the city could make Cafferty’s job even harder.

Cafferty called VOSD Radio cohosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts for this week’s podcast to talk about the buzz around kicking up the minimum wage, Texas poaching California businesses and what it’ll take to keep San Diego competitive with other markets nearby. Here are some of the takeaways from his call.

Reducing unemployment or poverty — what’s our priority?

“For small businesses in particular … an increase in the minimum wage, it can suddenly jump by $4, $6 or more, it could mean the difference between them hiring two or three more people. So I think we have to think about what we are trying to accomplish. If our No. 1 priority is to reduce unemployment in San Diego and still hire, then I would argue that raising the minimum wage does very little. If it’s to try to help people out of poverty, I would say that it’s one strategy that needs to be tied in with several more, because that alone is not going to help people out of poverty either.”

Raising the minimum wage would have consequences beyond county lines.

“I also think that San Diego has to think realistically about its competitive advantages and disadvantages with neighboring cities and competing markets. Because if it finds itself constantly putting fees on businesses or increasing our minimum wage when places around them are not,  then it could become challenging for them to retain some of the business they have.”

Software development? Yeah, we got it.

“Right now, the perception of San Diego is that we don’t have as much software opportunity and so if we were to lose a couple of those companies, it would just damage that reputation more. We’re trying to do a lot to push back against that. There actually, at any given time, are an awful lot of software openings in San Diego. It just may not be that we have an abundant number of large software companies. But those jobs cross over our entire economy and we could estimate right now that there’s a few thousand of them open that we can’t find people for.”

Download the rest of the show for more from Cafferty.

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Ana Ceballos contributed to this post.

Catherine Green

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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