By Chris Cate

San Diego is home to some of the world’s leaders in the technology and life sciences industries, including Qualcomm, the Sanford Burnham InstituteUC San Diego and the Salk Institute among many others. A large number of these industry leaders call District 6 home, and as the next councilman I would work tirelessly to make San Diego the world’s envy for our 21st century economy.

When new and expanding companies are scouting locations, the brainpower of the industry leaders who call San Diego home gives our region a clear advantage.

City Council candidate Chris Cate. Campaign photo
City Council candidate Chris Cate. Campaign photo

But San Diego cannot rest on it laurels. Given the increase in start-up businesses in these fields and the demand for high-skilled employees, we must continuously work to maintain the high caliber of companies that are in the region. It’s important because it translates into high-paying jobs for our residents and tax revenues for our city, which leads to better residential services in our neighborhoods.

There are four key factors that our elected leaders need to act upon to move our city forward and maintain our elite position with tech and life science companies:

  • Establishing a reliable local water supply
  • Increasing advocacy efforts for additional research funding and collaboration
  • Expanding domestic and international partnerships
  • Streamlining the development process

Water is the lifeblood of the high-tech and biotech industries, and San Diego is at the end of the pipeline. Under former Mayor Jerry Sanders and past councils, the City of San Diego approved a demonstration project to test treating recycled water and purifying it for drinking purposes.  The results: the purified water is just as clean, if not cleaner, than our current water supply.

Now is the time to invest in moving forward with producing purified, recycled water that is drought proof and environmentally friendly. Up to 80 million gallons per day, addressing 40% of the community’s demand, could be made available with this new source of locally-controlled water. This would significantly reduce our reliance on the Colorado River and Metropolitan Water District and slow down the rate at which water prices will inevitably increase.

Many companies in the biotech and life sciences industry rely on grants to fund research efforts. Because of cuts in federal funding, creative solutions and partnerships are needed to move forward to achieve breakthroughs. The National Institutes of Health recently announced the development of a public-private partnership with 10 research-based pharmaceutical companies in which research will be pooled to attack diseases like diabetes and Alzheihmer’s. According to industry leaders, for every research dollar that comes in to San Diego, between six and nine dollars of economic activity are created. Again, our elected leaders need to be part of the dialogue during these discussions and let all parties know San Diego is the best location to invest.

These industries are not just confined to just San Diego. Rather, they are representing major investments from around the globe. We need elected leaders who are willing to begin developing relationships with industry leaders from the Pacific Rim and other parts of the world. We are constantly competing with other cities to recruit and retain not only new companies, but even San Diego-based companies considering expansion of operations. These new investments will help produce more local high-paying jobs and expand our tax base which in turn creates revenue for the city and will pay for better roads, more police officers and expanded library hours.

San Diego’s elected officials need to ensure the city’s development and permitting processes are efficient and free from bureaucratic mazes. City government should encourage growth and expansion, not stand in the way. Time is of the essence for all businesses, so City Council should continually review and find efficiencies for businesses.

If elected councilman for District 6, I will work to ensure our city works to provide a reliable water supply, develop relationships to increase investments in our biotech and life science companies, advocate for additional research funding, and streamline our permitting processes. These efforts will help the effort to make San Diego the top destination for the jobs of the 21st century.

Chris Cate is vice president of the San Diego Taxpayers Association and a candidate for San Diego City Council in District 6.