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Economic Experts Brief Local Leaders on COVID-19 Recovery Efforts

Watch a Recording of the May 15 SANDAG Board of Directors Meeting

San Diego CA— On May 15, 2020, Mayors, City Councilmembers, County Supervisors, and agency leaders from around the region, who make up the SANDAG Board of Directors, met virtually to hear from economic experts about COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery efforts.

“It is of the utmost importance for the SANDAG Board of Directors to act to repair our region’s economy. Having economists and regional industry leaders share their expertise is invaluable in our decision making,” said SANDAG Chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. “Now is the time for us to work collaboratively to help our communities during this difficult time.”

During Friday’s meeting, the SANDAG Board of Directors heard an update from two panels of experts on the economy and economic recovery, and how the public health emergency has impacted the tourism, tech, healthcare, manufacturing, and real estate industries in the San Diego region.

The first panel of economists shared insight on the current state of the economy at the local, state, and federal levels, and the potential for recovery in the short-term. Daan Struyven, a Senior Economist at Goldman Sachs, said current national projections show, “an initial bounce back that is relatively rapid, driven by the economy opening. After that, we think it will be slower and take until the end of 2021 until the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] returns to the pre-crisis level.”

 The other panelists, Leila Bengali, PhD, of The Anderson Forecast and Ryan Ratcliff, PhD, of University of San Diego, shared findings to support that the economic recovery at the state and local levels is also likely to last until late 2021.

The second panel featured local industry experts who shared insight about what a return to “normal” operations might look like in the next 30 to 60 days. Panelists shared concerns ranging from employee childcare considerations to cross-border trade amidst uncertainty regarding the pandemic in Mexico.

“The future for us as a manufacturer is very different. I don’t know that we will be as profitable of a business,” said Barbara Wight, Chief Financial Officer of Taylor Guitars. “It’s hard to see where that profitability will come from. But we will find new ways, new technologies, and new markets.”

Taylor Guitars is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium acoustic and electric guitars. The company manufactures and distributes more than 160,000 guitars annually in both domestic and international markets, with factory complexes in El Cajon, California, and Tecate, Mexico.

Despite challenges, some panelists expressed a willingness to adapt to a new normal that involves employees spending less time working in the office.

“Remote working has been a great experiment, and there have been some incredible national studies,” said Kevin Carroll, Executive Director of Tech San Diego. “Workers are not losing productivity – many workers will not return to regular 9 to 5 office jobs.”

Dimitrios Alexiou, President/CEO of the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, speculated about potential long-term impacts to the healthcare industry. “We could see a shift to new jobs such as tele-health and screenings,” Alexiou shared. “This would change how healthcare is provided.”

The SANDAG Board of Directors will continue to have conversations about the impact of COVID-19 in the San Diego region as SANDAG staff monitor economic trends and employment numbers.

This week, SANDAG released new numbers showing that jobless claims continue to rise. According to the report, unemployment in the San Diego region has hit a new all-time high of 28.7%. More information can be found at sandag.org/economicimpact.

Friday’s SANDAG Board of Directors meeting was conducted virtually in accordance with Governor Newsom’s State of Emergency declaration regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, Executive Order N-29-20, and the Guidance for Gatherings issued by the California Department of Public Health. Board members participated virtually, while practicing social distancing, from individual remote locations.


The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors, council members, and supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and the county government.

To protect the health and safety of staff, partners, and the general public, SANDAG offices are closed to the public. Our team is working remotely during this time to provide essential services, and to continue progress on critical regional projects. SANDAG will continue to monitor the development of COVID-19 in the region and follow guidance from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

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