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From Site Selection magazine, September 2018

When the World Takes Notice

Access to markets, skilled workers lures foreign firms to San Bernardino County.

Image: Getty Images

When video surveillance provider NUUO US Inc. went searching for a new location for its North American headquarters, the Taiwanese company did not have to hunt very far.

From its former home base in Orange County, California, NUUO searched Southern California, from Bakersfield to San Diego, before it found exactly what it wanted: a site in Chino in San Bernardino County within Inland Southern California.

san Bernardino

"We wanted to be closer to where our customers are based, and 90 percent of our employees live within Inland Southern California," says Frank Wei, general manager of NUUO US. "This gets us closer to our workers and our customers."

NUUO manufactures video-centric surveillance systems for logistics businesses and industrial manufacturers — companies that normally operate large warehouses. As those businesses, along with advance manufacturing, in Southern California have moved from Los Angeles and Orange County to newer locations in San Bernardino County, NUUO has followed.

"Chino has its own unique location advantages because it is on highways 91 and 71. You can get around quicker here. Chino is more like the middle south of this market," says Wei. "This move is about being able to provide local manufacturing for the North American market and being able to be more customizable."

Having now operated in San Bernardino County for two years, Wei says NUUO is preparing to expand again.

He is not alone. All over the county, foreign-owned companies are making the decision to invest into new facilities and business operations in places like Chino, Ontario, Victorville and Rancho Cucamonga, among other cities.

Airport, Seaports Beckon the World

What's driving them to these interior SoCal locations is a combination of factors, says Jim Short, business development director for NUUO US. The primary advantages of locating in San Bernardino County, he says, include:

  • Proximity to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, just an hour away.
  • Easy access to Ontario International Airport, which offers Southwest Airlines flights and UPS shipping services, as well as competitive parking fees.
  • Access to 16 universities and colleges within a 10-mile radius, as well another 15 to 20 more colleges within 20 miles of Chino.
  • Reasonable costs for sales taxes and electric power.
  • 70 percent of local water comes from wells; the other 30 percent comes from other sources in SoCal; and none is ported in from Northern California.
  • "The economy is very stable here, and clearing customs is easy at LAX."
  • "Housing is more affordable here. Commute times are better. Workers look at those variables."
  • "We can service our clients in both Hawaii and the East Coast cities from here."
  • "Demographically and logistically, this location makes the most sense for us."

With 20,000 sq. ft. and 10 employees in Chino, NUUO is poised to expand more, says Wei. "We have 220 employees globally," he notes. "We have locations in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Africa. We definitely plan to expand again; we want to add other product lines in the U.S."

Soua Vang, economic development manager at the San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency, says that foreign direct investment plays a significant role in the county's economy. "We have at least 800 foreign-owned enterprises here," she says. "This adds considerably to our tax base and employment. Over 23,000 jobs are created by foreign-owned enterprises in the county; they pay about $1.3 billion in wages locally per year."

A young, diverse, multilingual and highly educated workforce attracts international employers to the county, says Vang. "Our median age is 32," she says. "Many languages are spoken here. The culture is very welcoming of newcomers from all countries. California is diverse, but we are especially diverse in San Bernardino County."


Top Ten Sources of FDI in San Bernardino County

  1. Japan
  2. Canada
  3. France
  4. Germany
  5. UK
  6. Mexico
  7. Sweden
  8. China
  9. Australia
  10. Switzerland
Source: San Bernardino County EDA
Composite image courtesy of Jonny Therrell and Getty Images

Market access and population growth attract business too, she adds. "We are the preferred choice for investment in the region," Vang says. "We have available land and the existing buildings to accommodate growing firms. Employers are supported by regional universities and technical schools. And, with affordable housing costs, this is a great place to live."

Time Differential Leads to Dollars

Vang points to another success story: Uyemura Americas in Ontario. A manufacturer of specialty chemicals for electronics, the firm boasts revenues of $500 million annually.

"We wanted a presence in California to reach our West Coast clientele," said Laura Hanna, administrative lead for Uyemura. "Also, since we already have a tech facility in Connecticut, it just made sense to have a presence on both coasts. Being in San Bernardino County allows us to have more extended and flexible hours to serve our customer base. When it's 5:00 p.m. on the East Coast, it's only 2:00 p.m. in California."

She adds that, "in our Ontario office, the staff is comprised of the accounting and engineering teams. We oversee our outsourced manufacturing and tech/R&D teams. Ontario is centrally located to our staff, and the proximity to Ontario Airport is desirable."

Vang says the county plans to keep pushing for more international businesses. "We have signed agreements with the city of Wuxi, province of Jiangsu, China, and Taoyuan, Taiwan," she says. "Our goal is to sign additional memoranda of understanding with two cities in South Korea: Incheon and Busan. We align with many industries in South Korea in food and beverage and aerospace."

Vang says the county's FDI attraction strategy is multi-faceted. "We pitch our county to foreign investors based on our strategic location, population growth, market access and other factors," she says. "We seek to build and nurture international partnerships, especially where there is industry alignment. We partner with others in the region, such as the World Trade Center of Los Angeles. They refer leads to us. We also participate in networking events such as SelectUSA. That enables us to introduce the benefits of the county to prequalified foreign investors."

Japan, Canada Send Big Investors

Trade works both ways. Vang notes that the top 10 sources of FDI in the county, in order, are Japan, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Mexico, Sweden, China, Australia and Switzerland. The five biggest trade partners with the county, she adds, are Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Japan and China.

"We believe in measurable results," Vang says. "We conduct targeted outreach efforts and do a thorough analysis to determine where we have industry alignment. That is how we build effective relationships."

NUUO's Wei says he likes the county's approach. "This is an up-and-coming area. We recommend it to others," he says. "We worked closely with the EDA when we were looking for a site. They gave us a lot of numbers and insight on each city. They gave us information on incentives and the square feet of real estate available.

"When we are ready to expand, we plan to do so right here in this region."

This investment profile was prepared under the auspices of San Bernardino County government. For more information, contact the county Economic Development Agency at 909-387-4700. On the web, go to

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


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