San Diego Regional Chamber





Paola Avila
Vice President, International Business Affairs


Chanelle Hawken
Vice President,
Public Policy


Sean Karafin
Executive Director,
Policy & Economic Research


Stefanie Benvenuto
Policy Analyst


Mayra Vazquez
International Business Affairs Coordinator


Sophie Barnhorst
Policy Assistant

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October 15, 2015


ACTION ALERT: Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization Moves Forward

Following our recent delegation trip to Washington, D.C., the Chamber achieved a major step towards the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank by gaining the necessary amount of petition signatures to send the Ex-Im issue to Congress for a vote. The Chamber is in strong support of the Ex-Im Bank, as it remains a vital component for small companies wishing to compete at the global market.

Congress will vote on this item on Monday, October 26th. To sign on to a letter urging Congress to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, please contact our staff.


ACTION ALERT: Urge Congress to Approve Trans-Pacific Partnership

Here’s the good news: after several rounds of intense negotiations, the United States - along with 11 other nations - has finally reached an agreement to create the world’s largest free trade zone. However, your action is still needed to ensure the legislation passes through Congress.

We urge you to take a moment to learn more about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership will significantly impact the American economy. To sign on to an open letter of support, please contact our staff.


Governor Brown Vetoes SB 249

Last Friday, Governor Brown vetoed Senate Bill 249, legislation that would have authorized the California DMVs to create an enhanced driver’s license program. The Chamber has strongly supported SB 249, as enhanced licenses are equipped with RFID technology which would help reduce processing time, increasing the speed and efficiency of cross-border travel.


Chamber Leads Second Business Visit to Tijuana


Chamber President & CEO Jerry Sanders and VP Paola Avila, along with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazarán embarked on the second round of business tours in Tijuana, their first business tour occurred in May of this year and included Kyocera and Plantronics. This visit’s focus was medical device industry, with a tour of Tijuana’s largest manufacturers, Welch Allyn and Medtronic. As the Cali-Baja region represents the largest concentration of medical device companies, this trip was an excellent opportunity to discuss various ways to support and attract new companies to the region.

Click here for the full story (Spanish).


Wilson Center and North American Research Partnership Clusters Report Launch


Last month, Chamber VP Paola Avila spoke at the launch of a recent initiative aimed to identify, map and analyze key industries within the binational region. As trade between the United States and Mexico has grown six-fold since NAFTA was introduced 21 years ago, this “cluster-based” approach to economic development seeks to strengthen the international business climate in order to encourage the flow of new ideas and generate new business opportunities to the region.

Click here for the full report.



POLICY WIN: Governor Brown Announces AB 504 Veto

Last Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation introduced by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez which sought to smother Civic San Diego with bureaucratic oversight. In response, Chamber President & CEO Jerry Sanders, along with Downtown Partnership President & CEO Kris Michell, released a joint statement in support of the veto:

“Governor Brown’s veto ensures Civic San Diego’s mission to advance transformation change in our urban neighborhoods continues. The Downtown Partnership and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce look forward to supporting Civic as the carry on creating jobs, providing affordable housing and attracting billions of dollars in private investment to the region…”


POLICY WIN: Pacific-to-Plate Signs into Law

Last Thursday, Chamber sponsored legislation, Assembly Bill 226, authored by Speaker Toni Atkins was signed in to law. The bill, known as “Pacific to Plate”, makes it easier for communities to have fishermen’s markets similar to farmers’ markets. With the region’s valuable Blue Economy, this bill removes barriers and increases opportunities for jobs and access to healthy seafood locally.

Click here to learn more.


POLICY WIN: Governor Brown Signs “Made in USA” Legislation

Last month, Governor Brown signed legislation to expand the definition of “Made in USA” for California businesses which manufacture “all or virtually all” of its product parts domestically. The Chamber supports this legislation as it provides consumers with accurate information about businesses that support American jobs.


Chamber Talks Climate Change on KPBS


Executive Director, Sean Karafin, joined KPBS to discuss Senate Bill 350, California’s legislation which requires state-regulated utilities to increase energy-efficiency by 50 percent and achieve 50 percent renewable electricity usage by 2030. Although in support of action to address climate change, the Chamber opposed this legislation, as it lacks details regarding execution which may prove to be very costly to Californians:

“Across the state, as people have to spend more to get those expensive renewable resources, that’s going to hurt people who can least afford [it] as a percentage of their income.”


Chamber Supports City’s Cost of Service Study for Water Rates

Chamber staff members attended a City Council hearing regarding the possible decision to increase water rates by 9.8 percent in January and 6.9 percent in July. Although an increase of fees would impact San Diego businesses, the Chamber agrees the measure is necessary to secure a safe and reliable water supply for the region.

Another hearing will take place November 17.


Chamber Announces Veterans Honor Roll


Under the leadership of the Chamber’s Defense, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, the Chamber has established a new recognition program to encourage businesses and regional organizations to increase hiring of veterans and military spouses.

Chamber members with veteran staff are encouraged to apply.


Partner Events

+ 11th Annual Elected Officials Reception - 10/15

+ Hiring Our Heroes Networking Reception & Hiring Fair - 10/21-22

+ CANACINTRA Tijuana Golf Tournament - 10/23

+ IEA Environmental Training Symposium and Conference - 10/29-30

+ Advanced Aerospace Manufacturing Summit - 11/2-4

+ International Real Estate Congress - 11/8-11

+ Free Mental Health First Aid Training - Ongoing



As the voice of the region’s business community, the San Diego Regional Chamber is the leading advocate on critical business issues, and is fighting to make San Diego the best place in California to do business.



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