Inclusive Business Growth

Local businesses play a key role in increasing broadly shared prosperity—an imperative for achieving the highest levels of economic growth in our region. Only when we attract and retain customers and workers from all segments of our diverse population will businesses of all shapes and sizes reach their potential. Therefore, access to financial and social capital to fuel sustainable careers and entrepre­neurship must be available regardless of ZIP code, race/ethnicity, gender or immigration status.

Local economies that extend opportunity widely not only maximize their productive potential, but also minimize the fiscal and social costs of exclusion. For example, childhood poverty—one outcome of an inclusive growth deficit—costs the U.S. economy an estimated $500 billion a year, or 4% of GDP, due to lost productivity, higher crime and incarceration and larger public health expenditures.

Research increasingly shows that the innovation economy is driving new levels of wealth for some but is not reaching all San Diegans. The region’s Hispanic and Latino populations, in particular, are glaringly underrepresented in San Diego’s highest paying industries and occupations.

In addition to inequitable access to wealth are soaring costs of living in our region and a nationwide battle for talent in this time of low unemployment rates. These challenges pose an unequivocal threat to our area’s competitive edge. Talent shortages are only likely to grow as demand or new skills accelerates while demographic gaps in educational attainment widen.

Over the next decade, nearly 42% of new jobs will require a degree or credential, yet many in our region cannot afford or access these credentials due to myriad factors. Without credentials, and with traditional ways of evaluating talent based on pedigree over skills systematically excluding workers with the experience and competencies to do the job, our residents are missing out on job opportunities now and in the future.

Adding to that is rapidly changing technology that impacts employment trajectories. If, for example, 49% of work tasks worldwide can be automated with existing technologies, many skills needed in today’s job market become obsolete in the future. Technology is also a key driver of the ever-growing gig economy, where workers are likely to simultaneously work for different employers—part-time or as contractors—often leaving a gaping hole in the area of social protection and a need for more robust supports.

We are working with businesses, higher education, school districts and partners to build talent pipelines in priority occupations to grow our regional economy. This generates wealth for more San Diegans by listening to populations excluded from prosperity and understanding the challenges they face, the costs of that exclusion, and the role we can play in making a shift.