The Chamber’s 12th annual “Mission to Washington D.C.” with a delegation of 140 San Diego and Baja California business and community leaders really made San Diego’s presence known in our nation’s capital. The delegation met with government officials, agency representatives, and policy makers to enhance understanding, build relationships, and advance policy that creates the best environment for businesses and neighborhoods to thrive. A broad range of issues were covered related to housing and homelessness, transportation and infrastructure, international trade and cross-border commerce, military and defense, and workforce development. A few of the highlights:
- A new North American trade agreement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, was announced during our trip. This provided an ideal opportunity to discuss the agreement directly with those who negotiated or drafted the language, including the Canadian Embassy, Mexican Ambassador Gerónimo Gutiérrez, Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Trade Representative. Delegates were encouraged to hear that the USMCA is viewed as a model for future trade agreements and an anchor for the trilateral relationship and economic prosperity. Now we focus our advocacy efforts on the legislatures of each country to ensure approval of the agreement.
- Housing and homelessness was a topic discussed across several meetings, including with the Secretary of the Navy and other military leaders, and policymakers at HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Delegates received input on programs utilized in San Diego, heard from the experts advising key lawmakers on the complexities of what is needed to move the needle on housing, and made the case for San Diego to receive more funding from federal programs.
- The need for funding for transportation and infrastructure projects including the Mid-Coast trolley line, and Pure Water, as well as attention on the Tijuana River Valley pollution issue, were shared with Senator Dianne Feinstein and in meetings with the Department of Transportation and EPA.
- Customs and Border Protection commended San Diego and Tijuana for being pioneers on innovative border infrastructure projects and pursuing pilot programs that increase border efficiency.
- Military leaders were encouraging of partnerships between business/industry and the military. Discussion included a new potential MOU between the Marine Corps and City of San Diego regarding innovation. San Diego was praised as a leader for programs to address sea level rise impacts on Naval operations as well as community support for Navy personnel and families.
This is just a snapshot of the more than 40 meetings that took place over three days. Being in Washington and sharing our stories is critical to advancing the policies and projects that grow our economy and help make San Diego a great place to do business. The industry experience and perspectives our delegation brings raises our region’s profile, and informs legislators of the very real, local implications of what they’re doing in Washington. I’d like to thank everyone who joined us and helped make this trip one of the best yet. If you’re interested in lending your voice, we’ll be headed to Sacramento in February 26-27, 2019.