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For more than 145 years, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce has supported visionary projects throughout our region ranging from housing to transportation to education. In these years, the Chamber has watched San Diego blossom. We’ve gone from a small seaside town to a bustling city, the eighth largest in the nation. Most of all, we’ve stood by the side of our leading companies as they pursue new, exciting and innovative projects that have helped San Diego become what it is today.
Many of these projects are dedicated to enhancing our sharpest tool to shape the future — our students. Investments in education just make sense. Universities train the next generation of leaders, from technology to science and beyond. They drive our economy, turning out the graduates that are tomorrow’s workforce. Without these critical investments, our region as a whole will stall as the qualified workforce stagnates.
For a local example of education’s ability to transform communities, look just 13 miles from the Mission Valley stadium site to UC San Diego. In the late 1950s, world-famous academics and researchers convened to applaud UCSD’s expansion onto acreage once owned by the city. The Chamber stood in unwavering support of this visionary plan. It’s hard to imagine the San Diego region without one of the country’s leading research institutions here in our backyard. Today, a similar opportunity presents itself with the Mission Valley site, arguably the last opportunity of its kind in our region. Through Measure G, the SDSU West initiative, we once again have the opportunity to expand higher education and positively impact the local economy for the long term.
San Diego State University is a world-class university that consistently generates significant economic impact within the region. Each year, the university turns out more than $5.67 billion in economic impact that is felt across the region. Many of the university’s 400,000 alumni, about 60 percent of whom remain here in the San Diego region, join our local workforce and use their skills, motivation and knowledge to strengthen our businesses and grow local industries.
College graduates bring with them large earning power and great potential that benefits us all. A 2017 economic impact analysis determined that SDSU alumni generate $3.7 billion in industry activity, $1.26 billion in labor income and more than 23,000 jobs in this region alone. San Diego’s workforce relies on the innovative, hardworking individuals who strive to obtain higher education and succeed in today’s economy.
SDSU fills this vital role by providing quality, affordable education for students across the region. But the university has come to a critical juncture. With a climbing number of applications and no more room to grow, the university needs to expand to meet its needs, enroll more students and continue to support San Diego businesses and the local economy.
Expanding San Diego State University is synonymous with expanding opportunities for students and businesses. The university is a critical pipeline that moves individuals from education to opportunity. After graduation, students catalyze businesses with innovation and leadership, critical for our business community today and where we want to be in the future.
The significant social and economic impact that higher education provides to each student is incalculable. But for the thousands of qualified students that are turned away simply for lack of space, this impact will never be realized. Just as the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce supported UCSD’s expansion more than 70 years ago, we are proud to support expanding higher education again today through Measure G. We look forward to the monumental impact it will have on San Diego’s businesses, industries and economy.
Jerry Sanders is CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and former mayor of San Diego.