For the first time this year, San Diego’s gross domestic product is expected to surpass $200 billion. I was proud to take part in negotiations to provide tax credits for our biotechnology, life sciences, aerospace and film industries, all of which are major contributors to our regional economy.

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Countywide, these industries employ 26,000 people with high-paying jobs, and generate billions of dollars for our local economy. They are also on the cutting edge of important research that has the potential to save millions of lives worldwide.

These industries are vital to job creation here in San Diego, but California still faces many challenges.

We can no longer rely on our state’s weather and beauty to attract new businesses and jobs. We need to be realistic about the level of competition we face.

California has the third-worst business climate in the nation, the highest corporate income tax rate, the highest sales tax and the second-highest gas tax. Governors from states like Texas, Arizona and Nevada are working hard to take away our businesses.

During the last legislative session, 37 bills were introduced that were designated “job killers” by the California Chamber of Commerce. Fortunately, my colleagues and I were able to stop all but three of them, helping to protect California jobs.

As I begin my second Assembly term, protecting California jobs will continue to be one of my top priorities. Some of the best ways we can do that start here at the local level, focusing on buying local and building up training for our future workforce.

This is why I’ve endorsed the “Think Local First” initiative. San Diego’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and buying locally is an effective way to create jobs. By buying, hiring and contracting locally, we can send a message to potential companies that San Diego is open for business.

In fact, it has been reported that for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, between $45 and $68 go back into the community. That’s money that can be used to fund public safety, improve our schools or provide services to San Diego’s homeless veteran population.

In order to remain economically competitive, we must also invest in our next generation of leaders. Traveling throughout our community, one of the biggest concerns I hear from small business owners is the lack of a trained workforce.

Experts predict that by 2025, California will have a workforce shortage of 1 million college graduates. That’s why I strongly disagree with the decision by the University of California Regents to increase tuition rates by 5 percent over the next five years. Higher tuition will only make it harder for students and their families to afford college and will result in fewer graduates to fulfill the demand for high-skilled jobs.

San Diego is home to some of the best universities in the country – UC San Diego, University of San Diego, San Diego State University, Cal State San Marcos and incredible private institutions as well. Our younger students who work hard in the hopes of one day attending these schools should not see their dreams shattered because of skyrocketing tuition costs.

I’m supporting Assembly Bill 42, which would freeze tuition and fees at our public colleges and universities while Proposition 30 is in effect. I will do everything I can to keep college affordable and accessible.

Looking forward, I am confident that none of California’s challenges are too great to overcome. By working together, we can make good on California’s promise of offering a better life for all our residents.

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, represents the 77th Assembly District in the California Legislature. Maienschein’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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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