Our first stop? Imperial Valley County. Nestled between the Mexican border, San Diego, and Riverside, Imperial Valley County is a cradle of industry and a renaissance county, supporting industries ranging from aerospace to mineral extraction, though its power sits firmly in agriculture. It’s known to supply two-thirds of vegetables to U.S. families during winter months and is a leading crop producer in California. The cherry on top for businesses is the 6,000-acre Southern California Inland Port giving access to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles without the exorbitant cost of locating there.
Southern California: Central to Everything
Moving north, east of Los Angeles are the three communities of Moreno Valley, Riverside County, and Fontana. Proximity to Los Angeles has attracted locations from several big-name employers. Moreno Valley alone has an abundance of Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, P&G, Solaris Paper and Karma Automotive. These companies are attracted by a diverse workforce of more than 110,000, electric rate discounts, foreign trade zone designation, and unique services like a business concierge and employee recruitment.
Riverside is eye-catching for business through three major initiatives: utility incentives, an on-the-job training program that reimburses businesses 50% of the trainees’ pay, and strong government support through the Business Assistance NOW Program, which provides financial resources, hiring assistance and site selection services. Riverside County holds a remarkable 12 airports, an intermodal railway and five major freeways.
The City of Fontana is the fastest growing city in the Inland Empire due to huge steps to attract and train a diversified workforce. The city’s goal is to expand the number of people who both live and work in Fontana by connecting citizens to local opportunities such as small businesses and startups that operate out of one of many incubators in the city. The workforce roles — as well as the industries these people are employed in — are highly diversified, in such sectors as educational services, healthcare, manufacturing and transportation.
Just north of the three communities is the city of Victorville, a community with strong logistics at its core. The city has partnered with Victor Valley College specifically to provide an aviation maintenance technology program at the Southern California Logistics Airport. The onsite program undoubtedly helps the shipping giants located there, including Fed-Ex, UPS and Amazon Last Mile Delivery.
Close to the Coast
Close to the Pacific Ocean the communities of Santa Clarita and Glendale stand out. Glendale is one of the few spaces in the country that can promote itself as a testing ground for the biggest industry names including Apple, Disney and Samsung. All three companies opened their pilot stores in the city with mega success. Glendale has taken a studied and scientific approach to its infrastructure, testing temporary and soft interventions in commercial space expansions, a successful public Wi-Fi program and transportation system modernization.
In Santa Clarita, the spectacle of FivePoint Valencia is unavoidable, and why would you want to? The largest mixed-use development in the state, the project brings over 21,000 homes, and 11.5 million sq. ft. of office, retail, industrial, recreational, school and public space. Valencia is one of several FivePoint mega developments in California.
Our two stops midstate are Tulare County and the City of Soledad. Both communities are proponents of improving public works and understand the value of these resources to businesses. In Tulare funding is continually pushed into improving more than 3,000 miles of road, since many prime developments remain close to rail and highways. Highway 99 is located along the county and serves as one of the most important truck routes on the West Coast, allowing ease of transport for the area’s diverse agricultural industry.
The City of Soledad has been investing in the vitality and safety of its neighborhoods and thus is able to showcase quality of life to promote economic development. The city advances business opportunity through business outreach programs, retention and expansion programs, and business education programs where business owners can stay informed on emerging trends and opportunities. In March of this year, the city enacted the Hotels Incentive Program, which awards up to $2 million in subsidies.
Orbiting the Capital
Our tour ends with three communities in northern California, the stunning land of wine, microchips and prosperity. Here we encounter Greater Sacramento, Stockton, and Vacaville. Greater Sacramento is filled with highly educated workers and students and has some of the most prestigious schools in the United States, flying the colors of Stanford, UC Davis, UC Berkeley and Sacramento State. There are nearly 1 million students enrolled within 100 miles of downtown Sacramento, and the burgeoning talent shows no sign of slowing down.
Stockton is a city dedicated to attracting businesses and then making them comfortable once they’re there. To develop its South Pointe project, the city was awarded $5.2 million from the Department of Toxic Substances Control, which will allow them to clean up the area and to build more than 400 housing units along the south waterfront. The city also has two other projects underway that are promising for industrialization — the Ace’s Diamond Grade Separation Project and the Stockton Regional Wastewater Control Facility.
Our final community is Vacaville, a city on the edge of innovation. The city’s robust biotech sector is supported by the schools in the area and by its position at the midpoint between San Francisco and Sacramento. Vacaville is in the midst of installing fiber-optic infrastructure throughout the entire city and is expecting to implement its broadband plan later this year, supporting the tech ecosystem in multiple industries.
Science and Industry
In addition to the strengths of the business environment, California’s economic development is furthered by three key companies: Capital Rivers Commercial, Biosciences LA and Southern California Edison. Capital Rivers Commercial offers its services to businesses through brokerage, development and property management. Capital Rivers is passionate about making development easy and helps businesses better navigate local governments.
The goal of Biosciences LA is to develop and train talent in the Los Angeles life sciences sector through a plethora of unique programs and work in conjunction with several incubator spaces funded by the county. The BioFutures Program seeks to diversify the life sciences workforce, while events like LABioTechWeek in October help businesses network and draw students into the field.
Finally, Southern California Edison (SCE) is a can’t miss among the state’s utilities. But less known is that the company houses its own Economic Development Services for businesses in its 14-county range. Notable programs include incentive programs that discount energy rates for businesses for five years. They also offer Charge Ready, where SCE pays to install and maintain charging infrastructure so that participants can own and operate charging stations.
This Investment Profile has been prepared under the auspices of TeamCalifornia. For more information, visit www.teamca.org.
Anna Reuter joined Conway Data as an Assistant Editor in 2022. She previously worked in public and mental health before putting her English degree to use writing for Conway Data's Custom Content Division and Site Selection magazine. She is a born-and-raised Atlantan from a family of writers and planners and has a natural excitement for all things sustainability, public transportation and food.