Opinion: Small Town vs. World Stage: What is San Diego’s aspiration?
By Joe Panetta
For years, San Diego has been ranked with San Francisco and Boston as one of the top three biotechnology clusters in the world. Cities around the globe are seeking to change that by investing billions of dollars to create their own cluster because they recognize the economic opportunities it creates. If San Diego is to remain a leading biotechnology hub, we must seriously consider the importance of having a global presence as a city and region. The rewards for doing so are plentiful; the consequences of choosing not to do so are significant. It is time to ask ourselves this question: What is San Diego’s aspiration?
What defines a global player? Clearly, the collaboration and innovation of our top universities, research institutes, diverse biotech and pharmaceutical companies and strong base of service providers make our biotech cluster globally recognized. But do we have other key elements that are essential to being an internationally competitive city in the face of challenges from cities seen as more global players?
World-class cities distinguish themselves by being internationally accessible, with airports, rail stations, ports and highways that connect them efficiently to other countries and regions. World-class cities are a blend of top-tier culture, recreation, sports and architecture. World-class cities are populated by a citizenry that seeks international recognition and interaction. We have a few of these attributes. But we have found obstacles to acquiring several, such as the construction of an international airport.
Will others be drawn to collaborate with us in the face of competition from a growing list of rival cities that now, in addition to San Francisco and Boston, include Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo? San Diego clearly has advantages that draw and keep people here: the climate, low crime rate, relatively little traffic and reputation as a region of collegiality and collaboration. As others cities pursue their goal of becoming more competitive on the world stage, it is time for the self-proclaimed “America’s Finest City” to consider its own aspirations.
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