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November 21, 2018

Inland Empire tech industry should focus on local strengths

Growth efforts should link to logisitics, agriculture, and green tech

Author: Holly Ober
November 21, 2018

Basing its analysis on traditional gauges of industry activity, the ‘tech sector’ has a limited presence in the Inland Empire according to a new analysis released today by the UCR School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. The study finds that efforts to home-grow tech may have more success if they are linked to the region’s anchor industries such as logistics, agriculture, and possibly green tech. Local policymakers and economic developers should leverage recent success in the region’s long-established industries to not only build the economy, but also expand the presence of tech occupations and establishments, according to the report. 

The analysis finds that over one-third of all the tech industry jobs in the Inland Empire are within tech subsectors that are directly associated with the region’s time-honored logistics sector, such as E-Markets and E-Shopping.  

“Technology is increasingly integrated with, and already exerting a large impact on, nearly every industry in the Inland Empire,” said Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research at the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development and one of the report’s authors. “Because we have limited resources to promote economic growth and well-being among local residents, as public and private efforts support the growth of tech in the region, the larger challenge will be to prepare the workforce to be tech savvy, and to position our communities, businesses, and organizations to adapt to the brisk pace of change that is taking place.”

The overall presence of the technology sector in the Inland Empire is modest, accounting for 2% of all establishments in the region, according to the study. Tech-related employment makes up just 1.9% of all jobs in the Inland Empire, compared to 6.8% of all jobs statewide. Since 2011, however, the region has seen an 11.7% increase in the creation of new tech establishments/businesses – primarily within subsectors related to the logistics sector including E-Markets, Agents and Brokers, and Design Services.

The study authors argue that efforts by major metropolitan areas across the globe to be the next Silicon Valley are an uphill battle, but the Inland Empire may be able to learn from places like San Diego and Austin, Texas, locations that have succeeded by focusing their efforts on applying tech to one or two key industries that already play a significant role in these regional economies. 

The new analysis, The Tech Industry in the Inland Empire, is available here

The report is produced entirely by the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development

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