Regular communication with our leaders at the local, state and national level is critical to making San Diego the best place to do business in California. Great progress was made during our annual delegation trip to Washington, D.C. which took place September 24 – 27, 2017.
This year’s delegation was the largest, with 163 business leaders, community partners, and public officials from San Diego and Mexico. This included four mayors, nine city council members, representation from both the U.S. and Mexican Consulates, county supervisors and leadership from the California state legislature and the State of Baja. The large delegation produced a diverse representation of industries and interests.
This year we had the unique opportunity of introducing San Diego to a new presidential administration. We met with members of Congress from outside our region and state, which helps inform a broader audience of our issues and strengthens our advocacy efforts.
Over three days more than 40 meetings occurred with a lengthy list of accomplishments and action items, highlights include:
The importance of NAFTA to our regional economy was expressed across various meetings on the cross-border track including with our San Diego Congressional Delegation, Department of Commerce, Mexican Ambassador, and was the topic of a Congressional panel discussion which included Congress members from San Diego, Texas and New Jersey. There is support across the board for keeping NAFTA, which concluded the third round of negotiations on September 27. Invitations to visit the San Diego-Baja region and see first-hand the impact of cross-border trade were extended to all officials we met with on the cross-border track. Sen. Kamala Harris, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, and representatives from the Department of Commerce agreed to the visit and the Chamber team will be following up to coordinate.
Funding for workforce development and higher
education initiatives such as the reauthorization of the Higher EducationAct and expansion of Pell Grants were the top priorities in meetings withSecretary of Education Betsy DeVos and meetings with leadership from the Department of Education and Department of Labor.
- We continued advocacy for our region’s fair share of The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s homelessness funding formula in meetings with top HUD leadership and Sen. Kamala Harris.
- The Tijuana River Valley pollution issue was discussed in meetings with the EPA, Department of State, Customs and Border Protection, Congress, Ambassador of Mexico, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Significant progress was made in gaining commitments from both federal agencies and legislators to seek funds to remedy the long-standing problem in a coordinated binational effort.
- Regional water issues, including water recycling, storage, and potable reuse projects, were topics of conversation with the Bureau of Reclamation and EPA.
- Delegates representing our region’s military interests met with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations. The meetings were well received and productive in covering a range of priorities including the elimination of state income tax on military retired pay, 2018 budget, BRAC, and integration of the F-35 aircraft into MCAS Miramar.
We look forward to continuing the conversations started in Washington and advancing these priorities that are critical to our regional business community. If you’d like to read more about our activities in the nation’s capital, check the trip hashtag #SDinDC on Twitter.