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Employment Clusters

Employment Clusters Analysis

First identified by SANDAG in the mid-1990s, employment in the San Diego region's 16 cluster industries grew by 19 percent between 1990 and 1998. At the same time, total employment in the region grew by 14 percent. SANDAG estimates that the region's clusters now employ more than 375,780 people, accounting for 34 percent of the region's total employment.

Employment clusters are at the center of regional economic development policy because of their overall potential impact on the region's standard of living. The 16 industrial clusters drive wealth creation in the region by exporting goods and services and attracting new wealth from both domestic and international markets.

SANDAG defines clusters as groups of interrelated businesses that drive wealth creation in a region. The 16 industrial clusters encompass software and computer services, computer and electronic manufacturing, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, medical services, defense and transportation manufacturing, and entertainment and amusement. They also include recreational goods manufacturing, horticulture, environmental technology, and visitor industry services. Clusters include businesses from both the traditional and ''modern'' economy, such as agriculture and biotechnology.

Economic growth in clusters benefits the entire economy because businesses are highly interrelated, buying and selling each other's goods and services. Clusters are the region's drivers. However, because their markets are not limited by the size of the local economy, they can expand far beyond it. The region's diverse clusters have been performing very well, and have help our local economy weather the current economic downturn better than many other areas in the nation.

Currently, employment clusters are increasingly being used to make policy decisions and to allocate public resources, according to SANDAG. Clusters help decision-makers guide work force development programs, retain high value added jobs, and understand the infrastructure needs of the regional economy. The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Regional Technology Alliance, and the San Diego Workforce Partnership are among the growing number of local groups in the region that rely on and utilize employment clusters in their business plans and strategies.