First of all, this iconic facility - your San Diego Convention Center - is celebrating its 30th Anniversary as our region's premier gathering place. Since 1989, we've welcomed 22 million visitors to our city. That's more than six times the population of San Diego County! Take a look at this then-and-now photo, which shows the sharp contrast between our "front door" before and after construction.
Your Convention Center has generated $22 billion in regional impact in 30 years and $555 million in hotel and sales tax revenue to the City of San Diego's general fund. Those funds have helped the city do its job to pave your streets, build parks and libraries and pay salaries for police officers and firefighters.
In addition to our anniversary, our region is also celebrating other milestone events:
- The 250th anniversary of the City of San Diego.
- Both the San Diego Padres and our home-grown Comic-Con International are commemorating their 50th year milestones!
- The San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge opened up to cars 50 years ago.
I believe it's important for all of us to be celebrating the contributions we have all made to the region and our communities over the years.
Let me be frank and say that I don't think San Diegans understand how the San Diego Convention Center affects them. But this facility is truly an asset for everyone.
We are the center for jobs! We are the "office" for more than 400 full-time and part-time staff and our food and beverage team employs over 800 men and women. Our staff members earn livable wages and benefits. And that's not including the seven labor unions we partner with who help us build "small cities" on our exhibit floor and meeting rooms each and every week.
We have folks working here that have been here since the building opened. And what's even more incredible is that this is now a generational workplace, with children and other family members who make their living by serving you. Our Center is a great place to work and visit. It really does take a village to make it so successful.
We are environmental stewards, and are on the cutting edge of sustainability, changing the way meetings are held. How?
Our Board approved the purchase of a new sorter that allows us to sort – by hand – through the trash, to ensure a clean waste and recycling stream. We are aiming for a 75 percent diversion rate by 2020. It's part of our commitment, as a LEED Gold Certified facility, to do more for our environment. In fact, our kitchens have zero garbage disposals. We compost food scraps or donate untouched food to our partners at the San Diego Rescue Mission. Last fiscal year, we were able to provide enough food to plate 115,000 meals.
Another important component of our business is locally-sourced food. Our food and beverage team at Centerplate works with local farmers within a 150-mile radius, who cultivate the vegetables and proteins that make up the meals we serve visitors.
This year, I am making a commitment to introduce our Center and its offerings to you in the community. I will be a part of our visits to community meetings to introduce and update you on what we are doing for you.
This is your Convention Center, so come visit! We offer tours of the building, so that you, too, can meet the team who is the heart of this award-winning venue and see the work we are doing. We also offer free community events, such as our recent Yoga Under the Sails and Job Fairs (the next of which is planned for May). I also want to invite you to our annual 4th of July celebration. There's no better place to watch the fireworks than from the back terraces.
Our entire Board of Directors is committed to enriching our community partnerships not just this year, but in the years ahead. We all serve as volunteers on this Board and understand that we are part of the third largest industry in the region.
As a native San Diegan, I have seen downtown grow into what it is today. I have relatives, friends and loved ones who had a hand in many of the landmarks that make up our city. When I drive downtown, I think back to what this city was long before the birth of the Convention Center, Petco Park and the hotels and Gaslamp in the heart of downtown. And how we are all better because of the decisions made by those who came before us. Let's continue to move progress forward for San Diego!
This blog post was written by 2019 Board Chair Xema Jacobson