SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC) unveiled the 11th annual Military Economic Impact Study (MEIS) at the Navy Harbor Drive Annex alongside Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard leadership October 10.  This year’s report provides an expanded focus on the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR), which is anticipated to introduce an additional $3.2 billion into San Diego’s economy.

The 2019 Military Economic Impact Study has been published here for all to read and gain a deeper insight to the quantified benefits the Department of Defense brings to our region. The 2019 Military Economic impact study also highlights the positive economic impact brought to the region through NAVWAR.

“Defense spending has increased in San Diego as the Navy has rebalanced the fleet toward the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region,” said Mark Balmert, Executive Director of SDMAC. “This could be very significant in the year ahead should we see slowing of the economy on a national or global scale.”

As in years past this 2019 study was conducted and written by Dr. Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Fermanian Business & Economic Institute. She said the myriad industries affected by defense spending created a “mega-cluster” in the region.

“This year’s report again shows that the defense sector and all its related activities is San Diego’s most important economic driver,” said Reaser, “Tourism, health care, medicine, shipbuilding — it doesn’t fit into one box. What makes it so complex is what makes it so important to our region.”

“The 2019 San Diego Military Advisory Council’s Military Economic Impact Study really reveals what we already know. America’s finest city thrives in large part because of our men and women in uniform.  The study solidifies the significance and the tremendous impact the military and defense communities bring to our San Diego region.” - San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer 

In addition to annual Military Economic Impact Study was a special section on the economic benefits brought to the region by NAVWAR. This is critical to understand as NAVWAR is undergoing the process of building a new facility near Pacific Highway in the Midway district.

“NAVWAR has a long history with San Diego, as the region has been a strong partner in executing our mission of delivering and sustaining information warfare capabilities for the Fleet and our partners around the world,” said NAVWAR Commander Rear Admiral Christian Becker. “This economic impact study helps us better understand the details of our relationship and how together we support our mutual success today as we prepare for the conflicts of the future from seabed to space and in cyberspace.”

San Diego and NAVWAR represent special synergies. While NAVWAR brings major economic, technological, and educational benefits to the region, San Diego provides NAVWAR with a vital network of defense contractors, research firms, talent, university connections, proximity to other major Navy installations, and essential test facilities.

San Diego businesses, institutions, and the military all partner in research and development, which is extremely successful in evolving capabilities of mutual benefit. This is especially true in the areas of medicine, unmanned systems, and information technology with a focus on cybersecurity.

Due to the military’s presence and economic value, the San Diego region serves as an incubator for small business whose customer base is the DOD. These businesses can then become part of supply chains vital to military operations.

The military has proven to be a good steward of the environment and frequently sets the trend for the region in environmental efforts, especially in the protection of endangered species, alternative energy, and the conservation of water. These efforts support the San Diego region’s Climate Action Plans (CAPs) as it strives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The synergy between the military and San Diego has two major implications. It means that pulling any part of the defense ecosystem out of the region would damage the effectiveness of the Nation’s security strategy. It also means that a loss of any part of the region’s defense network might be extremely hard to replace in terms of its economic and social benefits.

Other highlights of the report:

  • The Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, formerly known as SPAWAR, supports 5,200 military and civilian jobs and has a $3.2 billion economic impact
  • Coast Guard operations in the region support 1,745 personnel and generate $290 million in economic benefits
  • Because it spans a number of the region’s major sectors, including technology, health care, shipbuilding, manufacturing, and tourism, the military amounts to a regional “mega cluster”
  • Total local spending by the Defense Department, Coast Guard and Veterans Administration is expected to increase by 6% in the next fiscal year
  • Marine Corps camps and training ranges in the San Diego area, combined with the proximity to Navy installations, are essential to military readiness and are irreplaceable anywhere else in the nation

The total number of Active Duty personnel employed by the DOD or Coast Guard, along with civilians on DOD, Coast Guard, or VA payrolls, is projected to increase to approximately 151,000 in FY 2020, a jump of about 7,500 over FY 2019. This rise will be primarily driven by the addition of five ships to the Navy’s fleet homeported in San Diego, especially with the addition
of two aircraft carriers. 

Overview graph of the 2019  SDMAC MEIS 


SDMAC was founded in 2004 with the mission to facilitate and advance the partnership between the military, elected officials, civic leaders, and the business community in order to enhance the understanding of the military’s many contributions to the San Diego region. Annually, SDMAC commissions an economic impact study showing the considerable benefits from defense-related spending and presence of the military in San Diego. In 2017, San Diego benefitted from more than $25 billion in direct defense spending and was supported by more than 340,000 jobs by the military sector.  Click here to learn more.

2019 MEIS Executive Summary

NAVWAR Executive Summary


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