But how much do big companies actually matter to a city? Not as much as small companies.

Big companies certainly have their benefits. They are generous philanthropists and tend to have more stable employment, so they help cities weather downturns. But over the past 50 years economists have shown that urban growth is much more highly correlated with the prevalence of small companies, suggesting that entrepreneurship is more important than big employers for a city’s long-run prosperity, according to Edward Glaeser, an economics professor at Harvard who studies cities.

The good news for San Diego is that it has entrepreneurship in spades. The city is a center of start-up activity and venture capital investment, so while it does not have big recognizable companies — like Los Angeles does with its Hollywood studios or San Francisco with its tech giants — in the long run, Qualcomm or no Qualcomm, the city seems to be doing just fine.

“We’ve lived under the shadow of L.A….

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