US Mayor Article

Mayor Golding's Small Business Initiative High-Technology Jobs Driving San Diego Economy

July 31, 2000

The Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently released a report - Developing High-Technology Communities: San Diego - which highlights the turnaround of San Diego's economy. Once driven by defense-dependent industries, San Diego's economy is now being driven my entrepreneurs and high-technology firms. From 1990 to 1998, San Diego added 46,000 new high-tech jobs in bio-technology, communications, and other high-tech sectors. Prepared by Innovation Associates, Inc. (IA), the report credits Mayor Susan Golding for cutting red tape and creating a more business-friendly environment. Innovation Associates provides services to attract and develop technology businesses to metropolitan areas

"In order to grow and attract the kind of high-tech industries we wanted, we had to make dramatic improvements in San Diego's local business climate," Mayor Golding said. Under the mayor's leadership, the city slashed business taxes by 80 percent, reduced utility usage fees, and cut permit processing in half. The report also credits Richard Atkinson, Chancellor of the University of California at San Diego (now President of the University of California) for promoting high-tech development and spin-offs from the University in the San Diego region.

The report uses San Diego as an example of what cities can do to develop high-tech economies and outlines lessons for other communities. Some of those lessons are:

  • An economic downturn may unite community leaders, but it takes a common vision of the future and a local plan of action to sustain the momentum.

  • Local and state governments can make a difference by creating a "business friendly" environment for technology firms. Cooperative leadership from all sectors - academic, government, and private - is an indispensable element in creating a technology environment.

  • A research university provides a valuable resource for technology firms, but does so only if the university is open to and actively facilitates linkages with the private sector. Leadership within the university, from the top, sets the tone and direction for cooperation with industry.

The report is available from Innovation Associates at or the U.S. Small Business Administration at

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