San Diego economy gets extra boost from enterprise zone expansion

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders at dedication of Soitec manufacturing facility in San Diego in December of last year.
(Photo courtesy

It’s the kind of news you want to hear: San Diego landed a win in a bid to expand a vital job creating program. Currently, San Diego’s unemployment rate is 9.2 percent. So, this bit of news is a big deal for the region and the wider California economy.

Leaders have been working to ensure that businesses stay put, expand and even move operations to San Diego. The San Diego Regional Enterprise Zone, received approval from the state’s Housing and Community Development department to expand the Enterprise Zone to include prime industrial land north of the I-8, as well as eastern parts of Chula Vista. Related: See expansion map below

An enterprise zone is a defined area in which businesses can claim state income tax savings and other advantages. They were created in California to stimulate business investments in areas that are economically disadvantaged and to spur job growth in areas of high unemployment.

“City staff, together with our partners, worked carefully to evaluate and selected strategic, industrial property and put forward a compelling application that would give the region the best opportunity for approval to expand a zone,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders. “Enterprise Zones are crucial because they are one of the most valuable economic development tools we have to attract, and in some cases, retain businesses here in the region, and the State for that matter.”

So far, under the program, more than 7,300 new jobs were created. Enterprise Zones are also credited with attracting and retaining four major companies: ATK, Kyocera, Shire and Soitec. 

“For us, it helped attract our business to San Diego. It’s a great incentive San Diego offers as we could have picked anywhere to locate,” said Clark Crawford, V.P. Sales & Business Development for North America for Soitec.

“Enterprise Zones are a great benefit, especially in a very cost competitive market,” said Crawford. “This is just a better opportunity for us to better compete.”

Soitec has done a lot to boost the local economy in the short few months it’s been around.

“We are a part of a new manufacturing segment in San Diego: the green tech sector,” said Crawford. “For us, we went under construction in December of last year. At the peak, we hired 280 construction workers to retrofit our building. We hired 66 direct Soitec employees. At full capacity, we’ll have created 480 jobs directly and 1000 indirect jobs.”

Governor Jerry Brown indicated that changes to this program are needed in order for it to stick around long-term. HCD is working on regulatory changes to the program that are expected to be released in the fall.

“I hope the folks in Sacramento are hearing this message loud and clear,” said Mayor Sanders.

“Like the mayor said, this program helps California compete with the incentive packages in states like Texas and Arizona,” said Crawford.” We wanted to be located in California because California has the largest utility market in the United States. Being in California makes sense. This incentive program helped with our decision to end up in San Diego.”

Map showing the expansion areas in blue


Cheryl Getuiza

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