Riverside: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Although Riverside's beginnings are steeped in agriculture, today the economy relies heavily on government, education, manufacturing, and retail; however, affordable land space and housing are attracting employees and skilled laborers to the city. The city's Development Department Activity Update for 2003/2004 shows that Riverside ranks number one in almost all economic measures among the 53 cities in the area, including largest number of businesses and total jobs.

In recent years Riverside has placed a major emphasis on expanding its technology areas by developing high-tech industrial business parks. For example, the city, county, and University of California at Riverside all cooperate within the 856-acre Riverside Regional Technology Park. The complex offers a high-speed fiber optic telecommunications system that supports voice, video, and data information. Bourns Engineering and I/O Software, Centrum Analytical labs, and Luminex Software, Inc. have all chosen Riverside for new headquarters operations. Riverside also has taken strides in developing its industrial and manufacturing sectors. In the last 10 years Riverside has attracted more than 125 industrial employers, according to the city's Development Department. Riverside's light manufacturing base now includes such sectors as electrical instruments; plastics; wood, glass, and metal fabrication; food processing; recreational vehicles; and imaging equipment.

Riverside also hopes to see huge economic growth with the addition of shipping company DHL to its fold. The $18.6 billion company chose the March Air Reserve Base as its West Coast hub over two other Inland Empire locations. In addition the city's retail industry continues to grow as population continues to rise.

Items and goods produced: electrical instruments; plastics; wood, glass, and metal fabrication; recreational vehicles; food processing; aircraft parts; motorcycle parts; citrus-packing; precision plastic injection molders; home furniture; and medical imaging equipment.

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The City of Riverside Development Department offers many programs and services to help businesses grow and succeed in the Southern California marketplace. These programs and services include: industrial development bond financing, local and state designated Enterprise Zones, redevelopment incentives, accelerated processes for plan checks and building permit fees, employment hiring and training programs, mapping services, high-speed Internet bandwidth within the city limits, and very competitive electric and water utility rates.

State programs

The Agua Mansa Enterprise Zone, which is partially located in the northeast corner of Riverside, is one of the state's designated Enterprise Zones. Business incentives and tax credits are provided to those businesses that operate or invest within a designated enterprise zone. Riverside also is home to a state Recycled Market Development Zone that offers financial incentives to companies interested in promote recycling as part of their manufacturing process.

Job training programs

The federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) provides a cooperative effort between employers and the Riverside County Workforce Development Board. An employer can receive assistance with employer-specific training and financial incentives, such as reimbursements, tax credits, and direct payments for the training of new employees. Employers can also receive reimbursement for a portion of the employee's wages during an on-the-job training period. The State Employment Development Department offers employers assistance and incentives for hiring qualified individuals. These include the Work Opportunity and Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit for employers that are hiring qualified summer youth and other eligible individuals, such as certain veteran populations or older adults on supplemental social security.

Development Projects

Riverside has seen its industrial sector grow with the addition of the 56-acre University Research Park (URP), a project with the University of California, Riverside. URP is housed within Hunter Park and is the core of the recently designated 856-acre Riverside Regional Technology Park. Future plans for the Park include a 40,000 square foot technology business incubator.

Downtown Riverside also has been the focus of a rash of new developments. In 2002 Riverside Community Hospital opened a $20 million Emergency Room and Trauma Center. The Market Street Gateway, which is the entrance to Riverside off State Highway 60, has undergone vast aesthetic changes to attract more residential and retail developments. Market Street will also be the home of a new 126,000-square foot Corporate Center, located across from Fair-mount Park. The historic Fox Theater located downtown is currently undergoing restoration to become another multiuse venue in Riverside.

The Riverside Planning and Building Department has presented its General Plan for 2025. This plan outlines objectives for the future of Riverside in regards to housing, circulation, land use, economic outlook, arts and culture, and education. Some of the projects proposed in the General Plan for 2025 include improvements to the Riverside Municipal Airport, city parks, March Air Reserve Base/March Inland Port Airport, and more. The General Plan also proposes continuing support of the development of a contemporary state-of-the-art campus for the Riverside School of the Arts near White Park in downtown Riverside. The addition of shipping company DHL to the area promises to provide $65 million in new construction, according to the Riverside Chamber of Commerce.

Commercial Shipping

Riverside is adjacent to one of the major rail-freight centers in the state. Rail service to the city includes UPSP's main line and BNSF's main line and branch lines. The Riverside Municipal Airport, an excellent general aviation facility, accommodates private aircraft, charter services, and air-related businesses. More than sixty-five trucking companies are based in or have facilities in Riverside and provide a broad range of interstate, regional, and local freight services. The one-day area served from Riverside has a population of more than 30 million people, which is more than one-tenth of the U.S. population.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Inland Empire used to be the bedroom community for the larger metropolitan area. A relatively high percentage of the labor force commuted to jobs outside the two counties. But from 1980 to 2000 about 1.3 million people migrated to the area because it offered large tracts of affordable residential land, more than in coastal areas. The California Employment Development Department notes that Inland Empire's affordable housing and advantageous location have helped it create more new jobs than any other area. And the future forecast is just as bright. The influx of skilled professionals has helped the Inland Empire's economy become more focused on high tech, professional, and corporate jobs. These areas grow at a compound annual rate of 3.4 percent, adding 83,605 jobs, according to the Southern California Association of Governments. Blue-collar construction, manufacturing, and logistics sectors are expected to increase at 2.6 percent per year, adding 89,787 jobs. The Southern California Association of Governments forecasted that the Inland Empire's employment base will expand by 408,946 jobs from 2000-2010.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,149,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 119,000

manufacturing: 120,000

trade, transportation and utilities: 250,400

information: 13,700

financial activities: 45,200

professional and business services: 125,100

educational and health services: 117,700

leisure and hospitality: 115,200

other services: 38,700

government: 211,400

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.57

Unemployment rate: 5.5% (January 2005)

Riverside: Economy

Largest city employers Number of employees
University of California, Riverside 5,336
Riverside Unified School District 3,553
City of Riverside 2,642
Pacific Bell 1,800
Kaiser Permanente 1,700
The Press Enterprise Co, 1,300
Alvord Unified School District 1,200
Riverside Community Hospital 1,053

Cost of Living

Residential housing costs within Riverside are among the lowest in Southern California, a fact that has caused numerous companies and individuals to relocate to the area in recent years.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $424,106

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 119.9 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 9.3%

State sales and use tax rate: 6%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales and use tax rate: 1.75%

Property tax rate: Approximately 1.25% of assessed valuation; assessment ratio = 100% for residential

Economic Information: City of Riverside Development Department, 3900 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92522; toll-free (877)RIV-SIDE (877-748-7433); email devdept @riversideca.gov. Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce, 3985 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501; telephone (951)683-7100