Guest Post: Young & Restless in San Diego
This post was written by Whitney Benjamin, a native San Diegan and marketing professional.
Recently the Equinox Center and EDC hosted an event called “The Young & Restless: Winning the Race for America’s Best Talent”, discussing how San Diego can attract 25-34 year old working professionals and keep them happy enough to stay. Sitting comfortably in this demographic and pondering whether San Diego truly is the best place for my husband and me to work and eventually raise a family, the topic genuinely piqued my interest.
During the luncheon, Joseph Cortright, a leading economist specializing in regional economic analysis, innovation and industry clusters, spoke on what cities are currently attracting young talent, why, and in general what we youngins base our decisions upon. In short, it boiled down to well-built urban centers close to major business districts with plenty of public transportation, walkability and entertainment at our finger tips. I definitely agree with these generalizations, hence I live in University Heights, a 10 minute drive from work and arguably one of the most walkable neighborhoods in San Diego. But what I felt was missing, at least from San Diego’s perspective, is the actual opportunity of work.
I grew up in San Diego, so initially the choice to reside here was natural and carefree, but in the past few years diving deeper into my career, thoughts and realities of moving to a larger city have come into play. San Diego is a beautiful, kind and wonderful place to live, but it is difficult to find a stimulating long lasting career in San Diego, especially if you possess a more creative creed.
What’s missing for my husband and me? The abundance of big jobs, big brands, big agencies and career longevity that exists in cities we’ve considered moving to such as LA, San Francisco and even Vancouver, British Columbia, eh. Luckily, we’ve both found jobs we are very happy with, but both have sacrificed some of our greater career wants and strong opportunities to stay in America’s Finest City. Whether that affects us in the long run, we don’t yet know.
Perhaps if I were not right-brain dominant, my perspective would be different and I would be wearing a lab coat somewhere in La Jolla. So I guess my question is, does San Diego simply focus on attracting my antithesis – the scientist and engineer — in order to keep its economy growing? Or should San Diego attempt to recruit bigger companies that creatives could find a home with? At the end of the day, I want a place that is walkable, clean, does not require me to drive much, can feed me delicious and healthy food, and can pay me well so I can enjoy all those things my city provides. I know that’s a lot to ask, but it’s truth. Luckily, native San Diegans for the most part have a tough time cutting the apron strings and flying our beautiful nest, but if I were not from here and absent were Sunday night home cooked ritual meals with my family, I would have left years ago.
What do you think? What can San Diego do to attract young talent and keep them here for the long run?