Doing Business in San Diego

By Joseph Schmitt for PASSPORT Magazine
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Anthropologists believe the area of greater San Diego to have been inhabited by indigenous populations for more than twenty thousand years. For the past one thousand years, the Kumeyaay people controlled a territory reaching as far south as Ensenada, Mexico and as far inland as the Colorado River. These lands were linked by vast trading networks that served these hunter/gatherers well. The first Europeans arrived in 1542, claiming the territory for Spain. Missions were then established to sell religion and transport goods. Finally in 1992, the first Starbucks opened. It would seem San Diego, California, was destined to become a major player in the world of business.

Today with a population of over 1,300,000 and a Gross Regional Product of almost $142 billion, the United States' seventh largest city has certainly come a long way. The mild climate and geographic positioning of San Diego lends itself to agriculture, tourism, and the military. Now other major industries such as Biotech, software development, and telecommunications have also come to call this southwest corner of the United States home.

San Diego has even hosted two World's Fairs, in 1915 and 1935. Many of the Spanish/Baroque-style buildings in the city's famed Balboa Park were constructed for these expositions. These "temporary" buildings were eventually rebuilt using castings of the original facades to retain the architectural style. The Balboa Park of today is America's largest urban cultural park with sixteen museums and is home to the wonderful San Diego Zoo.

Since the 1980's, San Diego has experienced a prolonged and sustained cultural and economic renaissance, leaving this large city with unique and distinct neighborhoods. It is perhaps this more than anything that gives San Diego much of its charm. The heart of the GLBT community is the neighborhood of Hillcrest, with its many dining and nightlife options. Smaller, once neglected neighborhoods like North Park and East Village are now brimming with lofts, bars, and restaurants. The recent Southern California real estate boom has left much of the city's home prices and rents on par with Los Angeles.

Recently, I telephoned a good friend who has been living in San Diego for over ten years. I asked Brent, who works as a Product Manager for a leading telecommunications company, his thoughts on San Diego's growth. "There's been something called the sunshine factor here for a long time," he said. "It's purported to go a long way in San Diego. Companies manage to pay less when they can offer their employees the opportunity to live and work in a beautiful city with a virtually perfect climate. Thus, the city attracts top-notch, well-trained people." Brent says he doesn't see himself living anywhere else for now. "Being happy and inspired to keep my job here in San Diego, keeps me performing as well as I can, which ultimately helps further my career."

Throughout the year, from Downtown through Uptown, you'll find people strolling the streets, dining in cafés, or working on their laptops in the numerous coffeehouses. The relaxed and friendly vibe found throughout the city is a definite San Diego trademark. The city bus system is safe and convenient if you really want to go for the urban feel, otherwise taxis are recommended for ease and affordability. Getting around San Diego is almost as easy as getting to San Diego. Coming from Los Angeles, I'm quite fond of taking Amtrak, this saves me the frustration of sometimes heavy traffic. It's also an easy way to sneak in three hours of reading or work. The Amtrak station's downtown location couldn't be more convenient. San Diego International Airport is also conveniently located close to downtown. Navigating the city's freeways is relatively simple, but like most of California, you will find very heavy traffic at rush hour. Parking can be costly and challenging, especially downtown, so consider skipping the rental car and using taxis. Meanwhile, for those heading south of the border, the San Diego Trolley provides a safe and easy way to experience Tijuana, Mexico.

Published: 3 Nov 2008 | Last Updated: 1 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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