Setting Priorities for the Next Generation of Leaders, How We Build a Stronger Local EconomyAt the Chamber’s annual Inaugural Celebration, we marked 114 years of leadership in this community through the flash and elegance of the 1920s. Any student of history will tell you that the “Roaring ‘20’s” was an era of enthusiasm – a time of great change – with many challenges, but also much success.
It is an appropriate theme because Riverside is going through a time of great change as well. We are working our way out of a challenging economic recession. And we have much to show for the work we have done. The UCR medical school, the Perris Valley Line, and the many new businesses coming to Riverside are proof of that achievement and the progress we are making.
One of the most important challenges we face is ensuring that March Air Reserve Base, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norco, and the $800 million in economic benefit they bring to our region are protected during this time of major cuts to defense spending. The Chamber will continue to work hard to ensure that their strategic importance to our nation and their economic importance to our region are well understood by our leaders in Washington, DC.
We will also renew our efforts to revitalize Ontario International Airport as an attractive departure and destination point for the region. There are many issues to resolve but we will continue to work with the cities of Ontario and Los Angeles and the key stakeholders in the airline industry to increase airline traffic for Inland Southern California.
To continue the growth in our community, we must look to the future; or, as Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” That means thinking beyond the needs of the business community of today to the needs of our business community of tomorrow. When the Chamber’s Board of Directors convened at our annual planning session earlier this year, a key theme emerged that we need to engage the next generation of leaders so they take ownership of how we build a stronger local economy. While we are having success in growing our local economy and jobs in Riverside; if we want to sustain it we have to attract and retain the innovative energy of those future leaders who will soon lead our best businesses.
To that end, we must set a clear vision of our community in the future. This means working with the City of Riverside to pave the way for future job creation by investing in new technologies and methods, like Smart Code, that will make Riverside the most attractive place to do business in the Inland region and a location of choice in California.
And of course we must continue to support our members. This means creating opportunities for them to make new connections that help them expand their business. It means representing their interests with our elected leaders and staying at the forefront of the latest issues that impact our economy.
It is a privilege to serve as Chair of the Board for this Chamber. I look forward to working towards these goals to continue building a stronger local economy and better quality of life in Riverside.