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EDC sells San Diego region to international journalists

2 August 2010 No Comment

By Helen Kaiao Chang

See original story on SDNN

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Economic Development Corporation is hosting 10 international journalists this week as a way to promote San Diego’s regional and clean tech opportunities.

While the EDC has attracted U.S. journalists in past years, this is the first time the organization has worked with international journalists.

“We’re trying to elevate awareness of our cross-border economy and green economy,” said EDC spokesperson Megan Carleton. “This is part of our attraction development strategy.”

“It’s marketing,” said Jim Waring, chairperson of CleanTech SanDiego, a partner in the event. “When someone with a business or idea is deciding where to locate that business, they have a lot of good choices and viable communities. If (a business person) knows there is already a viable business culture in San Diego, they will give San Diego a serious consideration,” he said.

The journalists represent news organizations from Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Their mediums are radio, print and wire services. Representatives from the Foreign Press Center in New York and Washington are also joining them.

The journalists paid for their own airfare, hotel and transportation — a practice common in the journalism industry to avoid conflicts of interest. EDC is paying for their meals and incidentals, said Carleton.

The journalists will attend a two-day program on Tuesday and Wednesday. The schedule includes:

– Overviews of the San Diego-Imperial Valley-Baja economic region

– Overviews of San Diego’s algae biofuels industry

– Tours of local green companies, including Kyocera Solar and Sapphire Energy

– Interviews with San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders and Tijuana mayor Jorge Ramos

– Visits to Birch Aquarium and a Padres game.

The EDC’s presentation about the CaliBaja economic region is consistent with its recent efforts to promote San Diego-Imperial-Valley-Baja as a viable area. The EDC will highlight companies that base management and research-and-development offices in San Diego, while running manufacturing operations in Imperial Valley or Baja, where land and labor are more abundant.

“We’re sharing the story about our cross border economy,” said Carleton. “We’re marketing it as a place to invest.”

Other presentations will showcase companies in the high-tech, biotech and clean sectors, said Waring. This includes the growing algae biofuels industry.

The more international business leaders know about San Diego’s assets, the better the chances for collaboration, he said. “You have a better opportunity to learn about what others are doing in the world and maybe you can combine forces and reach markets more quickly,” Waring said.

Global linkages also foster cooperation in fighting climate change, he said.

“One of the reasons for the clean tech revolution is concerns over climate change. America could reduce its carbon footprint to zero and it would not reduce climate change unless you have additional points of technologies elsewhere in the world,” said Waring. “To the extent that the sector is driven by the climate change impact, it’s essential that it be international.”

EDC has already hosted 10 U.S. national journalists this year, including one from “The New York Times,” said Carleton. Since going through a reorganization two years ago, these efforts are part of EDC’s “more aggressive public relations campaign,” she said.

The EDC has been fighting its own economic battles, with talks of EDC and Connect combining into one organization. Connect now serves as a matchmaking agency for scientists, entrepreneurs and investors in the region. Both organizations have been hit hard by the economic downturn.

For now, EDC and its partner organizations are going all out to impress the foreign journalists. Waring said, “You want them to leave here going, ‘Wow, these folks are doing a lot of good work, and San Diego is a serious and meaningful player in the effort to develop these clusters in the world’.”

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenChang.

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