The Leader Magazine

SEP-OCT 2015

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Page 41 of 65

Southern California's San Bernardino County is HOT SPOT for GROWTH San Bernardino County jumped into the national spotlight a decade ago when California's Inland Empire started generating explosive growth. After weathering the recession, the economy is once again rebuilding that momentum and moving full speed ahead. California has been recognized as one of the top states for job growth in recent years, and San Bernardino County has certainly contributed to that ranking. The county has seen employment surge 9.2 percent over the past three years, which is outpacing the state's own robust growth rate of 8.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The county is recognized as a hot spot for industrial growth in Southern California. Businesses are attracted to the area for a number of reasons, chief among them being its strong transportation infrastructure, growing workforce and availability of land. Those factors have put the region fi rmly on the map as a manufacturing and distribution hub. With a land mass that spans some 20,000 square miles, the county is in a good position to keep that growth momentum going. "We defi nitely have room to grow both on the residential and the industrial side," says Mary Jane Olhasso, Assistant Executive Offi cer of Finance and Administration for San Bernardino County. "We will experience decades of growth, and we are preparing for that." During 2004, 2005 and 2006, the Inland Empire – including portions of San Bernardino, Riverside and eastern Los Angeles counties – was the third fastest-growing economy in the nation. Some of that was bubble driven, and what had become an overheated housing market did take a toll on the region. Today, the San Bernardino County economy has weathered that storm and is back on track. "This is really what I would call a more moderate, yet still very powerful, trend of growth that started back in the late 1990s," says Chris Thornberg, founding partner at Beacon Economics in Los Angeles. Key drivers to the San Bernardino County economy are the manufacturing and distribution sectors, as well as long-term, stable development of the residential sector. "The area is coming out of this downturn with a huge head of steam, and I don't see that cooling off anytime in the near future," says Thornberg. The county's thriving manufacturing base spans a wide range of businesses ranging from aerospace and aviation to food production. For example, the aerospace sector is rooted in the early aviation history of Southern California that emerged with pioneering fi rms such as Hughes Aircraft Company. These days, local fi rms are producing a variety of parts for use in everything from commercial airliners to the Mars Rover. In many cases, these companies are involved in precision manufacturing with jobs that can't be shipped offshore to lower-cost countries, notes Olhasso. Companies also like the West Coast location that offers easier access to the Pacifi c Rim and the growing Chinese market. Texas-based Mooney International is one fi rm that has announced plans to expand its presence in the county. The general aviation aircraft manufacturer announced this spring that it would increase its existing operations at the Chino Airport to include more than 153,000 square feet for its R&D, testing, training and sales operations. SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 1 | Special Advertising Section | San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency

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