There is one thing and one thing only that will help drive the real estate market in San Diego out of the gutter – Jobs. Forget about interest rates, tax deductions and budget deficits. Sure, they contribute (or don’t) to the wellbeing of our local market, but there’s nothing like job creation to get the real estate engine humming. It’s been missing for a long time. How to generate a few jobs, you ask? First on the agenda – Get Motorola Mobility (MMI) and don’t let them get away.
Most of the business world knows about the recent split up of Motorola into two companies. I want to focus on one, MMI. But first, a little history: You may remember Motorola as the company that, among many other things, brought us the radical (at least for its time) Razr phone around 2003. It was hugely successful, even fashionable (Think iPhone when it came out). Then they fell to the “What have you done for me lately” syndrome of not following up with another blockbuster phone and almost tanked.
Fast forward to 2008 when Motorola attracted (stole/bought) one of San Diego’s brightest executives, Qualcomm’s Sanjay Jha to turn around their dying cell phone business. Sanjay was instrumental in the recent strategic breakup of Motorola, along the way directing the development of another wildly successful cell phone platform you may have heard of – the Google-based Droid. He retains his responsibility for taking MMI to the Promised Land, which should not only include a much higher stock price, but coming back home to San Diego!
The whole MMI operation may include about 3,000 people. But I’m not selfish. San Diego would gratefully welcome 200 or 300 of his brightest – initially. Once the pictures of those 72-degree beach BBQs at sunset in February hit the Droid phones back in their current headquarters in Libertyville, Illinois, the rest will surely follow. I don’t know much about what the City of San Diego, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce or the Economic Development Corporation is doing, but I’m really, really hoping they have already landed in Libertyville and surrounded his office there. Don’t let him out until we get the deal!
Now, I’m sure Libertyville is a nice little community. How can anywhere with the name “Libertyville” not be nice? But here’s the reality check. I think it’s somewhere outside of Chicago and the temperature is, like, 10 below zero most of the year. The locals all have a severe Vitamin D deficiency! Sanjay still has a home here in San Diego. My goodness, how difficult could it be to get him to bring the Motorola Mobility headquarters here?
Well, word has it that both San Francisco and Austin are also vying for MMI. Sorry, but these towns can’t hold a candle to San Diego. With our average annual temperature of 72 degrees and gorgeous beaches, there is really no decision. Plus, neither San Francisco nor Austin can boast a Hodad’s Burgers joint. Case closed.
More than just bragging rights, bringing Sanjay (and his company) back to San Diego sends a powerful and positive message to the business world, especially that part devoted to wireless communications — that San Diego is back and can compete. One company leads to another and then, finally, after what seems like a long, long time, we start to see employment growing here again. Plus, homes are downright affordable now compared to 2005. No more excuses! It’s time to be proactive and creative. Mayor Sanders, do whatever it takes, but bring Sanjay home, bring MMI here and fire up the real estate market all at the same time! I’ll even help you roll out the red carpet.
And if any of these MMI immigrant techno-dudes need to find a home, I’ll take great care of them.