Reporting

May 15, 2012 by Gina Baleria

Inland Empire: Transportation hub of California’s economy

Last week, people from all over the state and from many different sectors and backgrounds came together in Santa Clara for the historic effort to get people talking about real, actionable solutions to fixing the state’s economy.

“One of the outstanding efforts of the summit was to gather regions and for people to understand that the economy of California is dependent upon the regions,” said Paul Granillo, president & CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, when talking about the historic first annual California Economic Summit.

Granillo told the CA Fwd Radio Show it was important for the Inland Empire have a voice at the table, to ensure people understand its importance to California.

“If we were a state, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties would be the 26th largest state in the union. We have over four million people spread out over 27,000 square miles. So, we are a significant part of the state,” he said. 

The region's economic focuses are manufacturing, healthcare, and commerce.

“We’re the lungs of goods movement in California and for the country,” Granillo said. “The ports in LA are the heart, and all of that goods movement moves inland through Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and we breathe it out to the rest of the country.”

Listen to the full audio of the interivew right here:

One of the major issues Granillo sees to economic recovery is a broken regulation system, and this was one of five major areas delved into at the summit.

“When it comes to regulation, people have their opinions, and sometimes their opinions are at odds,” said Granillo. “What I saw at the summit was respectful, fervent dialogue concerning regulation, especially around the issue of CEQA.”

CEQA has been a hot button regulatory issue for decades, often pitting environmentalists and business interests on opposite sides.

But, Granillo said the summit has the potential to change that dynamic.

At the summit, “environmental interests and business interests said the same thing: ‘this law is well-intended, and we shouldn’t just throw it out,’” he said. “There was agreement between the environmentalists and the business interests over the fact that this law is being misused.”

Granillo was heartened to see strong ideas form during the summit, as well as clear commitments to moving many of the ideas forward.

“You have literally thousands of people who want to see this be a success,” he said. “They’re going to be watching to see what the follow-up is,” especially once the information is sent to the governor and lawmakers. “We’re going to need to hold our elected officials accountable that they’re actually listening to us.”

A progress report on the ideas that came out of the economic summit is expected to be ready by June 30, 2012.

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