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Rady School of Management Faculty and MBA Students Apply Rigorous and Analytical Approach Provide Data Analysis to Measure the Economic Impact of the Military in the San Diego Region


Rady School of Management faculty and students have created a report that measures the economic impact of the military in San Diego. Through a partnership with the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC) a Rady School team of MBA students, guided by faculty advisors Sally Sadoff, On Amir and Joseph Engelberg, provided rigorous data analysis for the Military Economic Impact Report (MEIR). To produce this year’s report, the students leveraged data tools informed by groundbreaking academic research to calculate the impact of military dollars on the San Diego region.

The key findings in the 2020 MEIR emphasize the positive impact of military spending in San Diego during the economic downturn caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The report found that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, an estimated 25% of San Diego’s gross region product was from military spending, an increase of 2.5 percentage points over initial projections for the year. Overall military spending in the region increased by an estimated 5.7% in FY 2020, driven by an increase in defense contracts and an additional two aircraft carriers being based in San Diego. In addition, the report shows that 23% of jobs in San Diego county are supported by the military, up from 19% of jobs in FY 2019.

Andrew Ovrom, the Rady School MBA student lead for the report, explained the unique learning opportunity provided by the MEIR.

“This report was a great way to understand and calculate what the military impact really means through the numbers,” Ovrom said. “By utilizing the academic resources at the Rady School and UC San Diego, along with the experts at SDMAC, we developed a report that concretely quantifies the impact of the military in numbers that are supported by data. With a mixed student group that contained active duty military, San Diego natives, and international students, we challenged ourselves to produce a report that highlights the importance of the military on the San Diego economy and the people in it.”

Mark Balmert, Executive Director of SDMAC, noted the value of SDMAC’s partnership with the Rady School in producing the report.

“The Rady School report does a superb job of showing that the defense dollars came in at a higher level than last year,” Balmert said. ”So while COVID shut down other sectors of our local economy, the military came through, helping everyone in our community. This report is an important tool that helps our elected officials demonstrate the importance of the military to our region when seeking continued funding.”

Sadoff, one of the team’s faculty advisors, noted that the students took a new approach to the report this year by also including the perspectives of both military service members and local leaders to provide qualitative context to the data in the MEIR.

“The students wanted to demonstrate the impact of the military beyond numbers,” Sadoff said. “The 2020 MEIR connects the data analysis to stories of personal impact in the community. We included interviews and other spotlights to showcase the wide range of areas impacted by the military, such as private businesses, educational institutions, and healthcare.”

Rady School Dean Lisa Ordóñez described how the partnership with SDMAC on the MEIR is one part of a larger effort by the school to provide educational support for people affiliated with the military.

“We recognize the essential role active duty military members and veterans play in our region’s workforce,” Ordóñez said. “We are committed to providing graduate educational opportunities for military members, veterans, and their families that helps them accelerate their careers inside the military or at civilian organizations. The Rady School’s partnership with SDMAC is another avenue our school is supporting the military in our region.”


About the San Diego Military Advisory Council
The San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization established in 2004 to advocate on behalf of the military, veterans, and their families in the San Diego region. SDMAC’s advocacy efforts include facilitating the partnership among our military, elected officials, civic leaders, and the business community to improve the understanding of the important contributions made by the military.