SDSU West plan
Renderings of SDSU’s Mission Valley development plan / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The fate of San Diego and San Diego State University are inextricably linked.

SDSU’s $5.67 billion annual economic impact makes it one of our region’s most important economic engines. Since 1897, the university has welcomed tens of thousands of the region’s brightest students, in turn producing graduates that fill our community with a highly qualified workforce of innovators, entrepreneurs, professionals, public servants and leaders.

Voice of San Diego Commentary

But the landlocked geography of the SDSU campus has made much-needed growth incredibly difficult. Without critical investment to secure the university’s ability to expand, the SDSU economic engine will run out of steam.

The SDSU West initiative allows the university purchase the land needed to expand its campus, create an innovation center and fuel continued regional economic growth.

SDSU West is the best use of the currently city-owned land in Mission Valley for all San Diegans.

Data collected by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that more than 17,000 qualified students were rejected by CSU campuses for the 2015-2016 academic year alone. The problem will only get worse. The economy is becoming more and more dependent on a highly skilled workforce. Providing sufficient supply of higher education opportunities for high school graduates should be a top regional priority.

When qualified students can’t be accommodated by SDSU, many are forced to turn to opportunities outside the San Diego region, taking their tuition dollars, talents and promise with them. Losing these students does a major disservice to our ambitious local talent and robs the region of much-needed future graduates.

This damage is entirely self-inflicted and can be reversed by SDSU West.

SDSU’s recent economic impact report quantifies the university’s presence in San Diego. Beyond the $5 billion-plus economic activity, SDSU supports more than 42,000 jobs. Each SDSU student generates $57,000 in regional economic activity yearly, a figure that increases impressively upon graduation.

The group Friends of SDSU, an independent coalition of San Diego business and community leaders and SDSU alumni, has created an initiative that will secure the university’s future while enhancing its regional economic contribution and protecting the best interest of all San Diegans.

The SDSU West initiative sets careful parameters for what SDSU’s development plans may include and allows for a transparent, public process to create a site plan. Of equal importance, SDSU has stated its development will not use taxpayer dollars or increase tuition.

Initiative signature-gathering is underway. Supporting the effort is the best way to ensure SDSU will be an economic engine that will power our region for decades to come.

Gina Champion-Cain is a member of the Friends of SDSU. Champion-Cain’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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