As businesses and residents — particularly younger ones — continue to be priced out of Southern California’s coastal communities, San Bernardino County is experiencing growth across a number of economic indicators, according to speakers at the recent 2018 San Bernardino County Regional Business Summit and State of the County. More than 1,000 business, community, and government leaders were present to learn about this region’s economy.
Robert Lovingood, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, told attendees, “If you are between the ages of 15 and 50, the opportunities in this county are incredible. We continue to be the only region in the state that is attracting millennials, and that is a factor that is allowing us to grow and add jobs. Businesses can attract talent here.”
Along with an opening message by Lovingood, the event shared important data about the region’s growth, supported by business-executive commentary, including the fact that San Bernardino County is leading job growth in Southern California ahead of Orange and Los Angeles counties. Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute’s Center for Regional Economics and California Center, said, “Milken Institute, in its 2017 rankings, showed the Riverside-San Bernardino Metro surged forward. Out of 200 national metros it is now top 25. This is not just driven by housing and construction; it is being driven by a greater variety of jobs.”
One of the county’s local success stories, Kids That Code, is an example of that growth. Pat Person, executive director, Kids That Code, started the company with colleagues at the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at CSU San Bernardino, a top-35 global program for fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. “Students that go through our computer training programs will be instrumental as building blocks for a tech community in our County,” said Person.
Career pathways are also in place at Apple Valley High School. The school’s award-winning Medical and Health Science Technology (MAHST) Academy is an example of how the county is building a sustainable workforce. The MAHST program was recognized as a 2017 California Partnership Academies’ Distinguished Academy. MASHT is a four-year program that provides high school students with training and classes to achieve industry certifications and internships, further preparing them for college and a career.
Additional county attributes include the growth of Ontario International Airport. “LAX needs a stronger Ontario Airport because LAX is running out of capacity. Ontario could be positioned as the key long-haul airport for Southern California,” said Klowden. The airport, now under local county control, has been growing, adding new service with Frontier Airlines and China Airlines.
The county’s entrepreneurial spirit was also cited. Parliament Chocolate is a local entrepreneurial success story. “Operating here is amazing. It has given us the ability to expand and add stores,” says Ryan Berk, founder of Parliament Chocolate. He added that the young start-up is already shipping product across the United States and to international markets.
New ideas are also being incubated in the county on the campus of world-class health sciences center Loma Linda University Health at N3eight. This new center is working with ten start-ups seeking to launch medical innovations ranging from equipment used in surgery to wellness diagnostic tools to treating cancer. “This is a great environment for biotech companies to start, grow and develop deep roots,” said Michael R. Samardzija, Ph.D., JD, associate VP of research development at Loma Linda University Health.
Klowden closed the presentation, noting, “The main advantage for San Bernardino County is that it has the most ability to attract young people; to find low-cost and lower-regulatory locations, diversity, access to international markets, and the ability to attract investment in.”
To watch the entire State of the County presentation, go here.
by Carrie Rossenfeld