Destination 2016: San Diego

At the top of a nearly completed highway on-ramp near the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego, a pair of flags, U.S. and Mexican, snapped in the mid-April wind. A podium stood next to a white-peaked tent enclosing rows of folding chairs. To the north, east and west was the United States—San Diego and Chula Vista. To the south, Mexico—Tijuana and Tecate, once notorious as destinations for those in search of vice but now rapidly growing industrial centers. Bulldozers chugged back and forth on the plain below. In every direction, the landscape bustled with commerce: warehouses, roads, truck stops and factories. Toyota makes pickup trucks here; Solar Turbines, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, makes gas turbines; and 3D Robotics, the country’s largest commercial drone manufacturer, makes drones.

Business Climate
Cross-border manufacturing and an educated workforce make this a great city to be in business.
Civic Leadership
San Diego invests in its infrastructure, from new highways to light rail.
Resources including VC support, lab space for biotech and a collaborative atmosphere welcome startups.
The gathering was a celebration, attended by the U.S. consular general in Tijuana, the Mexican consular general in San Diego, representatives of the governments of Tijuana and San Diego, and local chambers of commerce from both sides of the border. The focus of their excitement: the on-ramp, one of the first components of a $1.3 billion investment in border infrastructure by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a regional planning agency, and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

That San Diego is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a road connecting it to Mexico might come as a surprise to Americans who have been following the presidential campaign. Two days earlier at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, presidential hopeful Donald Trump had declared that “our jobs are going to Mexico…companies are moving to Mexico…and we’re going to stop it.” He then led a call-and-response with the audience, chanting, “Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall!” Along with his calls for a border wall and mass deportations of Mexicans in the United States, Trump advocates a 35 percent tariff on goods produced by U.S. companies in Mexico.

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