Role of Trade and Foreign Investment on the Inland Empire Economy

On Wednesday, November 6, 2013, the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy, held an oversight hearing in Riverside County for the purpose of examining the role foreign trade and investment play within the regional economy of the Inland Empire. During the course of the hearing, Members has an opportunity to hear from economic development experts, business leaders, and other important regional stakeholders.  Among other things, the presenters discussed the region's key strengths, including its:

·         Strategic location as the hub of two international trade and goods movement corridors;

·         Its growing strength as a regional power; and 

·         The important role that quality universities like U.C. Riverside and C.S.U.  San Bernardino play within the region.

Presenters also discussed the region's economic challenges in leveraging those advantages for a better quality of life for Inland Empire residents, including: 

·         Infrastructure that hasn't kept pace with the region's significant growth and is insufficient to meet the structural needs
          of a modern goods movement network;

·         Low educational attainment among the current and future workforce; and

·         A changing and more competitive global business environment.

Chair Medina put forward four policy questions to help guide the hearing.  First, what actions can the state take to minimize economic and workforce challenges in the Inland Empire?  Second, how can the state support local and regional efforts to catalyze private investments?  Third, what opportunities are available to enhance the Inland Empire's global competitiveness by leveraging its 2 major trade corridors to Southern California air, land, and sea ports?  And, fourth, what actions can the state take to facilitate cross-border commerce and reduce de facto barriers to foreign investment and the international movement of goods?

Members discussed with the presenters how expanding foreign trade and investment helps to create jobs, strengthen existing businesses, and attract new firms to the Inland Empire.  However, it was also noted, that in order to realize these opportunities the region needs to work strategically and collaboratively to prepare residents, businesses, and communities to effectively compete in this increasingly connected global economy. 

Members and the public were provided with a pre-hearing background report, which included information on the California and Inland Empire economies, California's role within U.S. trade policy, and goods movement and logistical networks.  The pre-hearing report also included a list of recommendations presented under three response areas:

1.      Advocating for the Inland Empire

2.      Improving business fundamentals (such as, access to capital, workforce development, and marketing)

3.      Enhancing the Inland Empire's infrastructure and linkages to global markets

Members will spend the fall considering the testimony, hearing recommendations, and other hearing briefing materials.  When the Legislature reconvenes in January 2014, this information will be used to inform future legislative actions.  Written materials from the hearing are available below.

Agenda from November 6, 2013 Hearing

JEDE Pre-Hearing Report

Biographies of the Witnesses

JEDE Handout on the 10 Economic Drivers of the California Economy

JEDE Handout on the Southern California Goods Movement Logistical Network

PowerPoint from Commissioner Tom Freeman, Foreign Trade Commission, Riverside County

PowerPoint from Dr. Imran Farooq, Chief Advisor, SoCal Link, the new Inland Empire and Greater Los Angeles iHub

PowerPoint from Dr. Michael Pazzani, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, U.C. Riverside

PowerPoint from Mr. John Walburg, Manager of Marketing and Sales, California Steel Industries, Inc.  

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