News & Updates

Introducing a New Professional Development Program for Women


The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the launch of Advance, a professional development program designed to elevate women in the workforce through training and mentoring.

Through Advance, the Chamber aims to address the gender gap at the executive and board level by providing women with the tools they need to break through to the next level of their careers.

Participants will learn about and put into practice essential skills including:

  • Communicating to Win
  • Identifying Mentors & Advocates
  • Assessing Your Strengths
  • Leading a Team
  • Building Confidence
  • Negotiating Salary
  • Balancing Work and Family

To learn more – and join our inaugural class – click the button below. The final deadline for applications is Sunday, April 30.

Questions? Contact Sara Kamiab at

Out and About with Jerry – February


Chamber President & CEO, Jerry Sanders

As the national conversation surrounding U.S.-Mexico relations continues to dominate headlines, San Diego – and with it, the San Diego Regional Chamber – has received much recognition for its role as a binational collaborator.

Last week, POLITICO ran a story highlighting the cross-border business community’s efforts to bridge the economies of San Diego and Tijuana, which featured our Cross-Border Vision for 2017 Luncheonand the Cross Border Xpress, a project the Chamber helped facilitate. The story, “How San Diego Built a Bridge Over the Wall,” really shows how our region is a national model for successful cross-border commerce and how communities on both sides of the border can thrive by working together.

Earlier this month, I also joined San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum for a press conference to reaffirm our cities’ commitment to binational collaboration and the projects and initiatives that benefit both economies.

We’ve seen firsthand that binational integration is a strong contributor to San Diego’s economic vitality. In fact, at $5.5 billion in exported goods per year,Mexico remains our number one export market. The press conference was an excellent opportunity to educate the public on economic strategies that work, and I look forward to our continued collaboration with both mayors.

Press Conference

If you’re interested in adding your voice to the discussions surrounding cross-border policies and binational trade agreements, I highly recommend applying to join our Binational Delegation to Mexico City on March 26 – March 29.

As a delegate, you will meet with federal officials, organizations, and other policy influencers to discuss trade and investment opportunities as we cultivate political and business relationships. Don’t hesitate on this unique opportunity –submit your application now to take advantage of our early bird special pricing which ends tonight.

In addition to being a strong advocate for binational economies, the Chamber team has been working hard to put together programs to develop San Diego’s next generation of business leaders. Yesterday, we announced Advance, our newest professional development program designed to elevate women in the workforce through training and mentoring.

If you – or someone you know – is interested in taking advantage of our women’s professional development program, I invite you to learn more at and pass along the information to a friend.

I also want to take a moment to thank the following local businesses for inviting me to get a behind-the-scenes look at their operations:

  • American Heart Association
  • BV Accell
  • Extreme Game Truck
  • Hyatt Regency La Jolla
  • Intersection, Inc.

And I’d like to congratulate Gaspar Physical Therapy, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and Union Bank for their grand opening ceremonies this month.

Ribbon Cutting
Ribbon Cutting 2

Coming up, we have some great events and networking opportunities ahead. First, today is the last day to register for the Chamber Leadership Delegation to Sacramento taking place February 28 – March 1. If you’re interested in taking the lead on ensuring the priorities of Sacramento reflect the needs of San Diego’s business community, I highly recommend that you apply.

Next, workplace performance expert, Dr. Maureen Orey will host a Time Management & Productivity workshop at Coleman University. If you’re constantly feeling worn out by emails and to-do lists, this workshop is definitely for you.

Finally, we’re teaming up with the American Red Cross to host a Disaster Preparedness Academy on March 3 to help business owners create a disaster recovery plan. With topics including cyber security, active threat responses, disaster kit building, and more we aim to give the business community the necessary tools to protect their businesses, employees, and family from the potential impacts of emergencies.

Until next time, have a great weekend and hope to see you at a Chamber event soon.

Jerry Sanders
President & CEO
San Diego Regional
Chamber of Commerce

Business Forecast: Business Confidence Soars in First Quarter

The positive trend we have seen the last few months from county businesses continues with a surge in optimism in this month’s Silvergate Bank-sponsored Business Forecast. San Diego County’s Business Outlook Index (BOI) is now 25.6, the highest level since March 2016.

SDBF Jan 17 BOI Chart

The upswing is also evident across three of the Index’s four components: revenue, industry conditions and employee hours. For example, 41 percent in the previous quarter had thought revenues would climb and 10 percent thought they would fall; now half believe revenues will improve and just 3 percent take a negative view. There are similar trends for the hours companies will offer their employees and for industry conditions. However, the movement in terms of employment has been insignificant.

Looking back at major events affecting the outlook, the BOI has risen 16 points since President Trump’s election. But how much credit does President Trump deserve? Last month’s installment showed that most San Diego County businesspeople believe he’ll help the economy, and that belief spurs greater optimism, so there is definitely a “Trump effect” at work. But local events can also affect the outlook.

January’s resolution of the Chargers stadium saga coupled with the proposal to redevelop the Qualcomm Stadium site likely contributed to the recent optimistic surge. In only the last month, businesses in the north city section of the county — where the stadium is located — went from a BOI of 15 to 37. The north city firms are quite bullish on the labor metrics. They predict increasing revenue, and will be hiring and working more hours in the near term.

Another clue pointing to the positive influence of the redevelopment of the Qualcomm stadium site is that development and construction companies became far more optimistic in the last month. The BOI for those firms went from a mediocre 7.5 to 35 in January. It’s not that north city firms or developers will be expanding in the next few months due to a new project in Mission Valley, but the nature and timing of the BOI’s spike suggests the local events have sparked general optimism. In fact, the entire city of San Diego moved up from a BOI of 16 to 31 just in the space of one month.

The strong BOI comes despite another big jump in concern about the minimum wage. In the previous quarter, only 5 percent saw it as a new challenge, but that figure doubled to 10 percent in January. The San Diego-mandated minimum wage climbed to $11.50 beginning January 1. The minimum wage outside the city is $10.50.

This month we queried businesspeople about disaster preparedness, but before we asked that question we enquired whether they had personal experience with a serious emergency. Slightly more than a quarter have lived through one in which they were physically displaced or forced to remain in their homes. Nearly another quarter had not been directly affected by an emergency, but have a close relative or friend who has.

When it comes to disaster preparedness, businesses are like the general population: fewer than half of the county’s businesses have a disaster recovery plan. Forty-six percent have one, while one-third have considered adopting one without actually doing it. Another 21 percent have never considered adopting a disaster recovery plan.

Whether a firm has considered adopting a disaster recovery plan, and whether one has been adopted, directly relates to the size of the business. As the chart shows, one-person shops rarely have a plan in place, although even most of these businesses have at least considered adopting one. The main reason the smallest businesses have resisted is that they have concluded their business would not be affected. A secondary reason for them is usually that it is not a priority now.

Have Disaster Recover Plan Number Employees

Gaining multiple employees evidently focuses businesses on getting a disaster recovery plan in place. Those with two to five employees have a plan 39 percent of the time, and that rises to about half for businesses with six to 20 employees. When these firms do not have disaster plans, it’s often because they don’t see it as a priority. A large majority of firms with more than 20 workers do have disaster recovery plans, and yet more than one-third do not, including 29 percent of the largest firms.


The San Diego County Business Forecast, sponsored by Silvergate Bank, is a scientific look at where our region’s economy is headed. The survey for this month’s installment was fielded January 15-30, 2017 by Competitive Edge Research & Communication using responses from 201 randomly-selected members of the San Diego, East County, Alpine, Escondido, Lakeside, Vista, Santee, and National City Chambers of Commerce. One-third of the members were invited to complete the survey online. Those members who initially did not respond were invited to complete the survey over the phone.

The Business Outlook IndexTM (BOI) is comprised of four self-reported assessments regarding the next three months: Will a respondent’s business increase or decrease its number of employees, experience an increase or a decrease in revenue, increase or decrease the number of hours its employees work, and experience an improvement or a worsening of business conditions. For each assessment, definite and positive responses are scored 100, probable and positive responses are scored 50, neutral responses are scored 0, probable and negative responses are scored -50 and definite and negative responses are scored -100. The scores are summed and divided by 4 to get a range for the BOI of -100 to +100, with zero being a neutral outlook. Visit to see past Business Forecasts.


For over 25 years, as a San Diego based community bank, Silvergate provides a rewarding banking experience where the client’s needs always come first. Our business banking experts listen to needs and work to provide customized solutions to support your company’s growth and profit objectives. Our bankers are committed to superior responsiveness, local decision making, and the agility that allows our clients to choose the way they want to bank with us. To learn more, visit or contact Dino D’Auria at


The San Diego Regional Chamber is the hub for connections and collaboration among the regional business community, and uses that clout to advocate for public policies and candidates that support economic growth and the creation of jobs for all businesses. As the largest Chamber on the West Coast, representing approximately 2,500 businesses and an estimated 300,000 jobs, the San Diego Regional Chamber is fighting to make San Diego the most business-friendly region in California. For more information, please visit or call 619-544-1300.

February Policy Update

To get these updates directly to your inbox, sign up for the Chamber’s Policy Update Newsletter here.

A Message Regarding U.S.-Mexico Relations

With the national conversation surrounding trade renegotiations, relations between the United States and Mexico have grown uncertain. Many have asked us about our stance on the issue and the Chamber’s plans to protect cross-border commerce.

Our position is (and will always be) our mission: to be the leading advocate for business policy and connections in the San Diego-Baja region. This includes taking the lead on binational public-private partnerships, being a strong advocate for cross-border commerce, facilitating conversations on international policies that affect San Diego businesses, and educating the public on how international trade directly benefits local economies.

With San Diego’s exports to Mexico totaling more than $5.5 billion, San Diego and Baja are powerful partners in business with intertwined economies. By working together and combining our strengths, I am confident we will overcome any obstacle by tapping into our great potential that makes our region a top global competitor.

Jerry Sanders
President & CEO

sacramento trip

TMRW: Hotel Reservation Block for Chamber Delegation
to Sacramento Ends

Business leaders wishing to join the Chamber Delegation to Sacramento on February 28 – March 1 have until Friday, February 10 (tomorrow) to reserve their room in the Chamber’s hotel reservation block.

The Sacramento delegation trip is an excellent way to build relationships with San Diego’s prominent business leaders while making your voice heard on legislation impacting the business community.

Save $100 and submit your application by Thursday, February 21.

mexico city trip

Early Bird Registration for the Delegation Trip to Mexico City
Ends Feb. 24

Join the Chamber’s binational delegation to Mexico City on March 26-29! As a delegate, participants will attend exclusive, high-level meetings with Mexican legislators and collaborate on international policies that affect San Diego’s business community.

This year, confirmed speakers include: J. Enrique Espinosa Velasco, Senior Partner at SAI Consulting and participant in the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Juan Ernesto Pardinas Carpizo, Director of Mexican Institute of Competitiveness and former advisor for President Obama’s Council on Open Government, and a meeting with Mexico’s Senate.

Chamber members: save $600 and submit your application before the Friday, February 24 early bird deadline.


Regional Jobs Strategy Develops Road Map for Job Growth
While San Diego is fortunate to have numerous organizations helping to grow our economy and create more jobs, there hasn’t been a region-wide plan that aligns efforts for leveraging resources and initiatives – until now.

Released today, the Regional Jobs Strategy Final Report is a road map for jobs creation outlining the challenges our region faces and how best to address them which all Regional Jobs Strategy partners can implement.

Read the full press release here.


Macroeconomics Expert Shares Insight on Immigration and U.S.-Mexico Trade Relations
Nearly 150 business leaders gathered for the Chamber’s Cross-Border Vision for 2017 Luncheon, which featured a keynote presentation from Dr. Lee E. Ohanian, Professor of Economics at UCLA and former advisor to the presidential campaigns of John McCain, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.

Read the full event recap and discussion notes here.


San Diego County Water Authority Declares End of Drought
Earlier this month, the San Diego County Water Authority declared an end to the drought in the county, however state officials decided to keep the water-use restrictions in place.

Since there is no official definition for statewide drought, it’s up to Governor Brown to decide when to lift these regulations. The Chamber will continue to monitor any actions taken in Sacramento and advocate for San Diego to receive credit for its diverse water portfolio.

Read more here.


Chamber CEO Delivers Testimony on Border Economics at Congressional Hearing
Chamber President & CEO Jerry Sanders was invited by Congressmember Scott Peters to be one of ten individuals to testify at a meeting of the Congressional Border Caucus in Washington, D.C. The bipartisan hearing brought local perspectives from across the nation to counter the proposals of the Trump administration that threaten border commerce.

Read more here.


Housing Summit Hosted at City Hall
Since the coalition’s inception, the Chamber has participated as a member of Housing You Matters, which works to find solutions to the region’s housing problem. It’s goal is simple- make housing more affordable for San Diegans by increasing the supply of homes.

On January 26, Chamber staff testified at a Housing Summit hosted by the City of San Diego’s Smart Growth & Land Use Committee, focusing on the economic implications of failing to add new housing units to the city’s stock.

Read more here.


San Diego Named as Testbed for Self-Driving Cars
The Chamber officially joined the Californians for Safe, Self-Driving Cars coalition, a statewide group working to promote self-driving or autonomous vehicle usage. Officials from the group selected San Diego as a pilot city because of its ‘global reputation as a high-tech hub and extensive highway system.’

Read the full story here.


Convention Center Expansion Project Gets Green Light
Last month, Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled the planned contiguous convention center expansion complies with CEQA and the California Coastal Act. The timing of the decision comes at an opportune time for Mayor Kevin Faulconer who, during his State of the City, revealed a proposal to raise the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) to fund the expansion.

Read more here.

10News LEADership Award Recipient Bobbi Brink

Bobbi Brink is honored by LEAD and 10News for her years of working with and advocating for captive big cats, bears and other exotic animals.

San Diego Lawmakers Respond to President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration

On January 25, President Trump issued two new executive orders to prevent illegal immigration to the United States:

  • Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements – Instructs the Secretary of Homeland Security to plan and design a physical wall along the southern border and prepare a Congressional budget to fund its construction. Adds 5,000 border patrol agents to the U.S. Customs & Border Protection payroll. Instructs all executive departments to identify federal aid to Mexico.
  • Executive Order 13768: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States – Withholds federal funding from “sanctuary jurisdictions” or states and cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration officers. Instructs officers to remove any illegal immigrant that poses “a risk to public safety or national security.”

In response, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers from San Diego issued statements in opposition to the executive orders:

Congresswoman Susan Davis:

“A border wall is a simplistic approach to a complex problem. A border wall will cost billions to build – if it ever does get built – and that will be after millions more tax dollars are spent on eminent domain lawsuits as Americans fight to keep their property from being seized by the federal government…”

“Enforcement of our immigrations laws is a federal responsibility. Compelling local law enforcement to take on immigration means less time for them to focus on their primary responsibility – protecting our communities…”

Congressman Scott Peters:

“I have long been opposed to President Trump’s plan to spend billions of dollars building a border wall that will do nothing to make us more secure or more prosperous… Tens of thousands of jobs in San Diego, and millions around the country, depend on border trade with Mexico… This money would be better spent on modernizing infrastructure and hiring staff at our border crossings to make the screening of cargo and travelers more efficient and secure.”

Congressman Juan Vargas:

“Building a wall and stripping funds from sanctuary cities are not effective immigration policies, they are divisive policies. As the leader of the free world, our President must develop humane and fair immigration policies that keep all families safe and united.”

Mayor Kevin Faulconer:

Supervisor Greg Cox:

“We’ve made great progress in recent years improving trade and commerce with Mexico and I’d be opposed to anything that would harm binational trade and the creation of local jobs… I’d rather see the federal government spend money on our nation’s aging highways, bridges and other infrastructure.”

Although San Diego County and its cities have never identified themselves as sanctuary jurisdictions, several California cities – including San Francisco and Los Angeles – have. Meanwhile, Sacramento lawmakers continue to advance a bill that would provide statewide sanctuary for immigrants.

“If we have to, we’ll defund,” said President Trump during a Fox News interview on February 5. “We give tremendous amounts of money to California.”

Related articles:

10News LEADership Award Recipient Maja Wichtowski

Maja Wichtowski is honored by LEAD and 10News for providing low cost surgical and rehabilitation services to rescue organization dogs.

Convention Center Expansion Project Gets Green Light

Those in support of expanding the San Diego Convention Center were given a sigh of relief last month as Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled that the planned expansion complies with CEQA and the California Coastal Act. The timing of the decision comes at an opportune time for Mayor Kevin Faulconer who, during his State of the City, revealed a proposal to raise the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) to fund the expansion.

Although the convention center expansion project will likely continue, there are still hurdles standing in the way. A public vote with two-thirds support from San Diegans is still required. Meanwhile, a competing project is vying to occupy the same site.

Judge Wohlfeil has set a hearing for March 3 to consider any objections.

Roll Call: President Trump’s List of Cabinet Appointments


The Chamber is actively tracking President Trump’s cabinet appointments and their status in the confirmation process. Although these individuals are in various states of the confirmation process, they are responsible for determining agency direction and executing the policy goals of the administration. These leaders will eventually have a significant impact on numerous issues relating to the Chamber’s member businesses.

As of today, the President Trump’s cabinet picks are:

  • Department of State- Rex Tillerson (awaiting final floor vote)
  • Department of the Treasury- Steven Mnuchin (awaiting committee vote)
  • Department of Defense- General James Mattis (confirmed)
  • Department of Justice- Senator Jeff Sessions (awaiting committee vote)
  • Department of Homeland Security- General John Kelly, Ret. (confirmed)
  • Department of Health & Human Services- Rep. Tom Price (awaiting committee vote)
  • Department of Housing & Urban Development- Dr. Ben Carson (awaiting floor vote)
  • Department of Energy- Rick Perry (awaiting floor vote)
  • Department of Labor- Andrew Puzder (awaiting committee hearing)
  • Department of Transportation- Elaine Chao (confirmed)
  • Department of Education- Betsy DeVos (awaiting floor vote)
  • Department of the Interior- Rep. Ryan Zinke (awaiting floor vote)
  • Department of Commerce- Wilbur Ross (awaiting floor vote)
  • Department of Agriculture- Sunny Perdue (awaiting a hearing)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs- Dr. David Shulkin (awaiting a hearing)
  • Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency- Scott Pruitt (awaiting committee vote)
  • Ambassador to the United Nations- Governor Nikki Haley (confirmed)
  • Director, Office of Management & Budget- Rep. Mick Mulvaney (Awaiting committee vote)
  • Director, CIA- Rep. Mike Pompeo (confirmed)

Business Leader Spotlight: Shelley Lyford

Shelley Lyford, President and CEO of West Health

Shelley Lyford, President and CEO of West Health

This week, we’re excited to present a business leader spotlight from Shelley Lyford, the President and CEO of West Health, which includes the West Health Institute, Gary and Mary West Foundation, and West Health Policy Center.

In her role as president and CEO, Ms. Lyford oversees the organization’s philanthropy, with a focus on positively impacting the health and well-being of seniors. She has implemented new aging initiatives to make high-quality healthcare more accessible and affordable to aging seniors.

Ms. Lyford played a critical role in establishing the Gary and Mary West Foundation in 2006, which is now the second largest private foundation in San Diego. Prior to her work with Gary and Mary West, Ms. Lyford was a director at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Joan Kroc Institute at the University of San Diego.

Read what Ms. Lyford had to say here:

Hi Ms. Lyford, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us! As President and CEO of West Health, can you tell us a bit about what activities you oversee?

West Health 2Our mission at West Health is to enable seniors to successfully age in place, with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. West Health brings a unique combination of capabilities to address the specialized needs of seniors.

I oversee our outcomes-based philanthropy from the Gary and Mary West Foundation, which is used to kick-start or accelerate new models of care for seniors; applied medical research at the West Health Institute to validate their effectiveness; and we collaborate with our policy and advocacy efforts done through the West Health Policy Center in Washington D.C. to drive positive change.

West HealthWith 1,000 people a day turning 65 in California, we need to ensure our healthcare system is set up to meet the needs of older adults – seniors who are our loved ones, friends and neighbors. We need to think of their wisdom as a gift, but unfortunately, today they are one of most forgotten and overlooked populations in this country.

Seniors fought our wars and taught our children, yet many spend their golden years struggling to afford healthy food, a safe place to live and access to quality, affordable healthcare. This is a travesty, and our mission is to make successful aging a reality for our nation’s seniors.

What would you say were West Health’s biggest highlights last year?

SLyfordLast November was the 10-year anniversary of the Gary and Mary West Foundation, so we were excited to celebrate a decade of outcomes-based philanthropy in San Diego and throughout the country, having provided more than $175 million in grants to more than 400 organizations—all with a successful aging mission similar to ours.

In 2016, the foundation launched two new models of care to help seniors access high-quality, affordable care in San Diego, including the nonprofit Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center downtown, a one-of-a-kind senior dental center integrated with comprehensive health and wellness services for lower-income seniors, and the Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit, which will provide comprehensive, senior-specific emergency care at UC San Diego Health—the first in Southern California.

What do you see for the future of senior healthcare in San Diego?

I would like to see more health and supportive services available where it’s best for the patient—which may be in their own home or their own community instead of a hospital. I hope to see the senior-specific care models we’re working on—like improved emergency care, affordable oral healthcare, better support for family caregivers, and more widely-available home- and community-based care— in San Diego and across the country.

Any advice for young professionals who want to be in your shoes one day?

I subscribe to Will Rogers’ perspective: If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.

What book is currently on your nightstand?

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande and “David and Goliath” by Malcom Gladwell.

In a parallel universe, what career would you be in?

I earned a master’s degree in international relations and political economy from the University of San Diego, expecting to become a Foreign Service officer and living a life overseas. I’ve always been passionate about public service, giving back and international sojourns. If that didn’t work out, it would have been great to be the very first female NBA referee.