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An Inclusive Economic Development Roadmap for California's Inland Empire

While Southern California's Inland Empire has experienced above-average job growth and increased high-tech output for the better part of a decade, employment in high-tech industries has fallen over the same period. Fewer workers are reaping the benefits of innovation economies, and wage gains have been slow and uneven. And while there are overall low wages in the region, residents of the Inland Empire face a high cost of living. 

The pandemic’s waves of economic shutdowns have only exacerbated these disparities. While many service and frontline workers have lost employment or experienced a reduction in hours, professional and knowledge-based workers have emerged relatively unscathed, and some even prospered during the pandemic. These circumstances clarify the need to rethink the policies that we use to support investment in job creation and higher wages.

This paper will outline a new dynamic model of economic development and governance to make up for decades of deferred maintenance, lack of capital improvement, and community disinvestment. This model should serve as a bridge among local, state, and regional entities, in coordination with the private sector, in establishing a more dynamic investable communities’ framework.