The Inland Empire of California is a large area…so large that, if it was a state, it would have a population larger than 24 other states.
When it comes to economic development in this huge region, there are two big topics on the minds of business leaders and elected officials: Creating jobs and preparing a workforce for their jobs.
Those leaders from Riverside and San Bernardino Counties gathered in a Regional Forum today at the University of Redlands.
The Inland Empire Regional Economic Forum at the University
of Redlands focused on ways to improve job creation for its
four million residents. (Credit: Cheryl Getuiza)
Manufacturing and logistics are two huge employment sectors in the Inland Empire, which is why Dr. John Husing, the chief economist for the Inland Empire, urged California to pay more attention to its manufacturing sector. “California cannot write off manufacturing,” he told the more-than-100 participants at the Regional Forum.
As is done at all the Regional Forums (and there have now been seven in California), local participants were asked to vote on big issues that impact them locally and that will be discussed at the California Economic Summit on May 11 in Santa Clara.
The biggest goal? 44 percent of them said to create jobs.
A second theme is education. This group was talking not just better schools but something more specific than that. The participants thought the schools need to do a better job of preparing the local workforce, calling for “learning partnerships between schools and industry so that curriculums are match with jobs.”
The Forum, like all 14 that will have been held in California by the end of March, are exploring areas of workforce preparation, infrastructure improvement, innovation encouragement and simplify business regulations. Those will be topics at the statewide Summit on May 11 that will attract people from the Inland Empire and all over California to create an action agenda, to improve the environment for job creation in California and improve the state’s ability to compete in the global economy.
That last thought was evident in today’s audience when they voted to urge the Governor’s office to really concentrate on business retention and business expansion in California.
A spirited discussion broke out during the question and answer about the reputation of California as a place to business. Plainly, this group thinks that reputation needs to be improved. And that’s one of the topics sure to be discussed at the first California Economic Summit on May 11.