San Diego is widely known for its idyllic Mediterranean climate. That combined with a strong influence from neighboring Mexico, gives San Diego a unique flavor. Despite its relaxing reputation, San Diego has a strong economy and three accredited law schools: California Western, Thomas Jefferson and the University of San Diego.
Several areas of San Diego (in particular La Jolla and surrounding Sorrento Valley areas) are home to offices and research facilities for numerous biotech companies. Major biotech companies like Neurocrine Biosciences and Nventa Biopharmaceuticals are headquartered in San Diego, while many biotech companies, such as BD Biosciences, Biogen Idec, Merk and Pfizer have offices or research facilities in San Diego. There are several non-profit biotech institutes, such as the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Scripps Research Institute and the Burnham Institute. The presence of University of California, San Diego and other research institutions helped fuel biotechnology growth. In June 2004, San Diego was ranked the top biotech cluster in the U.S. by the Milken Institute.
National defense is a major employer in the city and the region as a whole due to a large presence of military installations. Tourism is also a major industry owing to the city's climate and other major attractions. Major tourist destinations include the San Diego Zoo and its sister park, the Wild Animal Park, SeaWorld San Diego, Balboa Park and the city's numerous beaches.
San Diego is also home to companies that develop wireless cellular technology. Qualcomm Incorporated was founded and is headquartered in San Diego; Qualcomm is the largest private-sector technology employer (excluding hospitals) in the United States. Other companies also have research and development labs in San Diego, principally focused on cloning Qualcomm's CDMA cellular technology.
The economy of San Diego is also influenced by its port, which includes the only major submarine and shipbuilding yard on the West Coast, as well as the naval base.
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