“World's Smart City” Branding Thrills Local Leaders, Boosters

San Diegans who tout their city as "America's Finest" have been known to get called out on that claim.

But when National Geographic ranks the region among the world's “smart cities," it's hard to argue the point.

If a book really can be judged by its cover, San Diego's scenic beauty is a great start to the story.

All well and good.

Truth be told, however, it’s what’s springing from the minds of geniuses -- and the power of business and industry – that’s now putting this city on the world's 21st-century map in a substantial context.

"Where desert meets ocean lies one of American's fastest-growing cities,” begins the narration for a 30-second video trailer promoting the documentary “World’s Smart Cities: San Diego” produced by the National Geographic Channel. “A place where talent, innovation and technology thrive in a relaxed way of life."

It’s priceless exposure, for a longstanding tourism town with deep and ever-stronger intellectual and economic underpinnings.

Local high society swells and civic leaders turned out in grand fashion for a Tuesday evening reception and local premiere of the production, showcasing San Diego among just a handful of anointed cities-- and the only such city in North America.

"We know what a great place it is; we know there's amazing things that happen here,” Jim Zortman, Northrup Grumman’s executive vice president told NBC 7. “I think now the rest of the world is going to find out -- and in a lot of cases, they're going to be surprised."

Says Kerri Kapich, marketing vice president of the San Diego Tourism Authority: "San Diego is really changing how people live, work and play. And we're doing that on a global basis, if you look at the type of products and services that we're creating and taking to the marketplace …higher education, this innovative economy that's been built -- all of these things are creating a very enviable destination, if you will."

Hometown pride, validated on an international scale potentially reaching 300 million households in 61 countries, is hard to hide under a rock for city boosters.

"Around the world, when people think of the great cities doing great things, San Diego's got to be part of the equation and part of the discussion," says Mark Cafferty executive director of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. "What (National Geographic) saw, as an outsider looking in, is a region that's trying to address challenges, is thinking about those challenges -- and has a history and a culture in its business community that has been solving big, significant challenges for a long time."

The documentary airs here at 8 a.m. Saturday on the National Geographic Channel.

Local business executives will soon screen it in London, Tokyo and Washington D.C. during high-level private meetings to further promote San Diego's global impact.

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