Business in Riverside
That strength is readily apparent during Riverside’s Long Night of Arts & Innovation, which floods downtown streets with exhibits built around science, technology and other high-tech fields that are the backbone of the 21st century economy.
College students, as well as students from the local k-12 school districts, are major participants in the Long Night. Some of the high-tech companies that call Riverside home also have a strong presence at the event, including Bourns Inc., Siemens and SolarMax Technologies.
The event, which starts in the late afternoon and runs until midnight, showcases the capabilities of college students, tech companies and the local colleges and universities that are doing world-class research in Riverside. Filled with lectures, interactive demonstrations, and “hands-on” activities for children, the Long Night emphasizes Riverside’s strong technology base.
The event, the name of which plays off Riverside’s status as a City of Arts and Innovation, takes place at various locations throughout downtown Riverside, including the Fox Performing Arts Center, Riverside Auditorium and Events Center, UCR Culver Center, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, downtown Library, Riverside Arts Museum, Main Street Riverside, and City Hall.
The Long Night of Arts and Innovation featured the best STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and creative arts projects from University of California, Riverside, La Sierra University, California Baptist University, Riverside Community College, Riverside (RUSD) and Alvord (AUSD) school districts, and many private schools.
The type of students who make up the Long Night program also are capable of stepping in and helping a business thrive. In fact, enrollment at Riverside’s colleges and universities is at an all-time high, boosting the City of Riverside’s student population to 48,718. For example, the University of California, Riverside’s total enrollment for the 2013 year grew to 21,297.
The emphasis on STEM coincides with an 18.6% increase in STEM jobs since 2001 in Riverside, making the area the #2 ‘Hot Spot’ for technology growth in the nation according to Forbes. This growth is a direct result of the community’s proactive approach to building an economy around these industries.
Conversely, STEM employment was essentially flat in the San Francisco and Boston regions and declined 12.6% in San Jose from 2001 to 2012. Chicago, New York and Los Angeles all lost tech jobs during that period, while other areas, including Riverside, experienced double-digit expansions of tech employment.
Riverside encourages the spirit of entrepreneurship. For example, nearly 100 people recently helped create 10 new local businesses over a three-day period during Startup Weekend Riverside. The global program Startup Weekend brings 54-hour events to select cities where people come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and create startups. The crowd includes people with technical backgrounds and others with business backgrounds.
Many of the workers who typically get involved in such entrepreneurial activities are also looking for innovative working arrangements. Riverside.io recently opened the city’s first official co-working space in downtown, bringing together software developers and other “techies” who might otherwise be working in coffee houses or at home. At Riverside.io, they enjoy a professional environment where they can collaborate with like-minded knowledge workers.
Examples of entrepreneurial success abound in Riverside. For example, the Kite Patch team launched a campaign on the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo to raise $75,000 and send approximately 20,000 patches to be field tested in malaria-ridden Uganda.
The campaign surpassed that $75,000 goal in just four days and subsequently set a new goal of $175,000, only to see funding levels far exceed $300,000.
Efforts to encourage such entrepreneurial ventures received a boost when Riverside County recently received designation of an iHub, known as Inland SoCal Link, from the State of California’s Office of Economic Development.
This designation capitalizes on Riverside’s direct transportation links to the Port Los Angeles and the region’s continued growth in innovative technologies, businesses, and institutions of higher education.
Inland SoCal Link seeks to maximize economic development opportunities within the transportation corridor, which links the Port with the Inland Southern California region by establishing an advanced manufacturing center that innovates and refines logistics in an effort to maximize the state’s exports.
The Riverside region is also home to two prestigious and impressive military installations: March Air Reserve Base (MARB) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Corona Division. The esteemed March Air Reserve Base (MARB) and the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, boasts a proud military history, while continuing to advance through its use of technology and innovation. A strong economic driver for the region, the base employs over 8,500 military personnel and provides a more than $500 million economic impact to the Riverside area.
MARB serves as an operation hub for both the California Air National Guard (CA ANG) and the Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC). CA ANG controls its MQ-1 Predator Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) program from the base and was recently able to utilize these technologically advanced aircraft to assist in the fight against some of California’s most devastating wildfires. AMOC, the nation’s only federal law enforcement center, is tasked with detection, monitoring, sorting, tracking, and coordination of law enforcement response to suspect airborne and maritime activity at, beyond, and internal to our nation’s borders.
Along with the many aircraft housed at MARB, including F-16’s, C-17’s, and KC-135’s, the base provides air refueling to Air Force, Navy, and NATO aircraft and is capable of rapidly delivering troops, cargo, and disaster preparedness personnel anywhere in the world.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center has been a leader in the Navy’s research, development, test, and evaluation process by providing independent assessment for 50 years. Today, the center is the Navy’s only independent assessment agent, and is responsible for gauging the warfighting capability of Navy ships and aircraft. It also provides critical warfighter support to the Navy and Marine Corps as the range systems engineering agent, and helps sustain aircrew training around the world.
As a high-tech center for science and engineering, the base contributes more than $300 million each year to the regional economy, with some 1,500 local civilians and contractors supporting nearly 200 Defense Department programs. The base hosts more than 70,000 visitors each year.
The warfare center also serves as the measurement and calibration engineering agent to ensure the measurement accuracy of today’s precision combat and weapon systems. In the heart of Southern California’s Inland Empire, NSWC Corona is strategically located near the largest concentration of military power in the world; serving as a tremendous support to local military customers and businesses throughout the region.
From entrepreneurs, technology, and education to medicine, military, and innovation, Riverside’s local economy is diversifying; continuing to build a stronger workforce for tomorrow and create greater economic opportunity for its businesses and the community.