Why San Diego

San Diego has many industries to be proud of. The region is home to a thriving biotech sector and a strong defense sector. From it's telecom industry to sports innovation and algae biofuels cluster, the region is an innovation hub. In 2011, the region ranked 24th (within the U.S.) with 48,730 jobs in foreign-owned firms.

The California aerospace industry is world-renowned

Global Access

San Diego’s location on the West Coast and proximity to the Mexican border provides an attractive geographic position to expand trade with the Pacific Rim. Contributing to San Diego's global efforts are the region's two international airports, offering direct access to global centers like London, Frankfurt, Zurich, Tokyo and Shanghai. Further increasing ease of access to our neighbors across the border, the end of 2015 brought with it the completion of the world's first cross-border airport terminal between San Diego and Tijuana. Continued investments in our infrastructure include an expansion of the airports and convention center, improvements to local highways, rail and transit systems, and the construction of new education and health centers. 


  • The Unified Port of San Diego has outlined a strategic plan to balance their prominent import cargo with their export cargo. 

  •  With construction set to wrap in 2021, the newly launched Mid-Coast Trolley project will provide an effective alternative to congested freeways and roadways for travelers and will result in fewer vehicle miles being traveled.

  • The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA) has added direct service to Frankfurt and Zurich. 

  • Japan Airlines provides direct flights from San Diego to Narita, Japan. In 2010 alone, San Diego hosted 74 thousand visitors from Japan, and this route will be the first direct flight between San Diego and the Asia-Pacific.

  • San Diego International Airport reached a new milestone, surpassing 20.7 million passengers in 2016 - up 3 percent from 2015.

From Ebola to Alzheimer’s to HIV, San Diego’s research institutions are developing breakthrough therapies


With its more than 80 universities – including the largest engineering school in the state – and world-class research institutions, San Diego competes globally in attracting some of the most talented engineers, scientists and technology professionals. The quality of life in the region, combined with strong technology-based industries, means only the best and brightest work and live here. Add to that a robust service sector with professionals in finance, marketing, sales, facilities management and other administrative positions, San Diego is a thriving, diverse economy. Forbes rated San Diego one of the top 'Coolest Cities' in 2014.

Education in San Diego is as innovative as many of its industries. The region has established public charter schools that have influenced primary and secondary education across the country. In addition to the nationally recognized universities that educate and train San Diego’s leaders, there are opportunities for lifelong learning that keep San Diegans at the leading edge of technology and entrepreneurship. 

Access to Capital and Tax Incentives

A leading center for innovation and entrepreneurship globally, San Diego ranks sixth in the world for venture capital investment per capita. The region's businesses and research institutes successfully compete for financing, at both the local and national levels, garnering the support of VC investors and business incubators across the globe. A testament to the region's entrepreneurial climate, San Diego venture capital funding totaled $1.4 billion in 2015. The San Diego region is also a magnet for federal grant funding. San Diego's research institutes, universities and independent hospitals received $743 million NIH funding in total for R&D in 2014 - more than any metro in the U.S. In addition to being the top ranked metro overall for independent research institute funding from NIH, San Diego is home to three of the top ten most funded independent research institutes.

The California Competes Tax Credit, an income tax credit negotiated between the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), supports businesses that want to relocate to or grow in California. In 2015, California Competes provided more than $19.7 million in tax credits to 38 San Diego companies - 13 percent of the total tax credits awarded and the second highest of all regions in the state. Some San Diego recipients include Taylor Guitars, General Dynamics NASSCO, Hunter Industries and more.


  • There are more than 25 incubators and accelerators in San Diego, lending themselves to the region's small business ecosystem.
  • San Diego County ranks second nationally in best return on investment in local public companies, according to the CNBC financial network. 
  • San Diego Venture Group’s annual Pitch Fest! competition provides innovative San Diego companies with the opportunity to compete for funding to enhance business development and growth.
  • “Qualcomm Labs @ EvoNexus” is a business innovation program, operating out of EvoNexus, which provides start-up tech companies with the resources and connections needed to advance their goals.


San Diego offers world-class dining, professional sports and entertainment options typical of a large city, but the patchwork of distinct neighborhoods fosters strong community ties. Residents gather at festivals and farmers markets, meet friends at beaches and parks and regularly bump into friends and acquaintances in local bars and restaurants.

San Diego's geographic diversity allows people to choose a lifestyle – from urban high-rise with walkable neighborhoods, suburban communities with distinct personalities and small town centers, or wide-open spaces with rural charm – all within easy reach of major employment and transportation centers. The economy, which encompasses everything from sports, entertainment and tourism to highly technical and scientific companies, offers upward career growth and mobility.

San Diego's quality of life is influenced by the year-round sunshine and temperate weather which encourages an active lifestyle with lots of outdoor activities. Outstanding healthcare organizations with state of the art clinical and research facilities keep San Diegans healthy. The quality of our healthcare attracts non-residents to San Diego for specialized treatments and world-class care.

San Diego’s many amenities are the source of its attraction for visitors, including the World Famous San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, SeaWorld, Legoland and Balboa Park. Nature gave us miles of beaches, mild weather and natural beauty but our people have created a wide variety of cultural, arts and entertainment opportunities for all ages and interests. The booming local craft beer industry – which includes more than 140 breweries – has been recognized for various awards and has garnered attention from international media.

World’s Smart Cities

National Geographic Channel features San Diego as the only U.S. city in its acclaimed documentary series 'World’s Smart Cities'. San Diego was chosen for its strong technology sector, local innovators, green practices, smart public planning and an unparalleled quality of life. Other selection factors included San Diego’s size of population, demographics/cultural diversity, livability, economy and business climate, educational institutions, leadership and strong sense of community.

Watch the documentary

Focus industries

San Diego is a major center for Cleantech, Aerospace, Information Technology, Information Technology, Defense, Leisure & Tourism, Health & Medical and Research.

Learn about our Focus industries.