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San Diego's $14 Billion Blue Economy: How Far Does It Reach?



TMA BlueTech has launched a multi-faceted economic impact and supply chain study to measure the size and economic impact of the broad maritime and more specific BlueTech (ocean & water/wastewater tech sectors) in San Diego County.

Funded by the San Diego County and the City of San Diego, this study will update the first-of-its-kind “San Diego Maritime Industry Report 2012” that identified over 1,400 companies producing over $14 billion of direct sales and a workforce of almost 46,000 spread across an array of traditional and technology-oriented sectors.  It will also include a supply chain and a multiplier effect analysis related to the fast-growing BlueTech sector to understand the impact on jobs and dollars to the economies of the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, and the State of California. 

“The maritime and BlueTech economies are an integral part of our history, our present and our future for this region.  Understanding this unique, thriving sector – and particularly the supply chain and multiplier effect – are critical to promote an inclusive, dynamic sector that benefits all our citizens while addressing global needs,” said Nathan Fletcher, Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

“This study will help us to understand how maritime and BlueTech companies thrive, how they support other industries, and how they position us as leaders so we can implement policies and actions to continue to support them,” said Christina Bibler, Economic Development Director, City of San Diego.

The Blue Economy – ocean and water related industries – is huge and growing. Figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis in June 2021 showed that the U.S. marine economy alone (a subset of the larger Blue Economy) generated revenues of more than $600 billion annually (more than the agriculture or public utilities sectors)—and grew faster than the nation’s economy as a whole—contributing to every industry in the U.S. economy and supporting billions of dollars of research and advanced technology.

Two economic research firms – ERISS Corporation and TBD Economics – have been engaged to perform the analysis and a team of students from University of San Diego, under the supervision of Professors Michel Boudrias and Simon Croom, has been engaged to help contact companies for information.  The study will be released in November 2021 during the 13th annual BlueTech Week scheduled for Nov. 15-19, 2021.

San Diego's Maritime and BlueTech industries and related economic activity comprise one of the most unique regional economies in the world. These activities reach across hundreds of industry sectors including businesses as obvious as fishing and as surprising as specialty glass and metal forging. These widely varying occupations – particularly in the supply chain that support multiple sectors – must be understood to protect as a sustainable competitive advantage for the region.  This study will be the first time that a comprehensive BlueTech supply chain and multiplier effect will be studied. 

Michael B. Jones, President of TMA BlueTech, explains, “San Diego is a significant maritime and globally recognized BlueTech center.  Many thanks to the City and County of San Diego for funding such an important study.  This kind of work is essential to help us understand and support the unique Blue Economy in our region and to promote it globally.  We urge all companies that are contacted by a USD student or the economic firms to participate!  The greater the participation, the better the results will be.”