Manufacturing sector declining? Not in Southern California's Inland Empire

Sept. 14, 2006
In 2004, when the rest of the U.S. saw a mere 0.2% growth in manufacturing jobs, the manufacturing sector jumped 3.4%, reflecting 3,864 new jobs in an area called the Inland Empire, this according to John Husing, the Inland Empire's regional economist.

Paul Hiller
President and CEO
Inland Empire Economic
Riverside, Calif.

Job growth continued through last year. The Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. reports that the Inland Empire has helped create 43,200 manufacturing jobs since 1990.

Located in Southern California, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, the Inland Empire includes Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Seventy-five percent of companies based there have relocated or expanded to the region from outside California, and a full third are manufacturers. Some are start-ups, but the most recent influx has been established medical-device makers wanting to expand their operations. Other companies with manufacturing facilities in the Inland Empire include Smiths Aerospace, Gentex, GE Aircraft Engines, Goodrich Aerostructures, Microdyne Plastics, and Wilden Pump.

Unlike other areas in the state, including coastal Southern California, that are largely built out, the Inland Empire has an attractive supply of industrial buildings built on spec. Companies in expansion mode can get on a short list and quickly find what they need.

The Inland Empire also has a highly educated workforce. More than 300,000 degreed workers live there, and the region hosts a large community-college system. For example, the Center for Competitive Technologies (CACT) at Riverside Community College trains workers and this boosts competitiveness of local manufacturers. RW Lyall, a producer of natural-gas transfer equipment and machinery in Corona, uses CACT's rapid-prototyping expertise to cut development costs and bring products to market faster.

Another advantage for manufacturers is that a handful of Inland Empire cities own utility companies and can offer high-energy users lower negotiated rates than investor-owned utilities.

The Inland Empire is also a West Coast epicenter for the movement of goods. Every truck or rail shipment entering or leaving Southern California and headed for all points north or east passes through the Inland Empire. Nearly all of Southern California's major trucking companies have established cross-dock hubs in the area. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, for instance, operates an intermodal yard in San Bernardino where manufacturers and distributors can efficiently move product between trucks and railcars. The Inland Empire is also home to four major cargo airports.

All of these factors help make the Inland Empire an excellent choice for companies looking to relocate or expand in California.

The Inland Empire Economic Partnership ( is the region's private, nonprofit economic development organization, and focuses on the expansion, retention, and incubation of businesses in the area.

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