"We will continue to hold more visits with Riverside’s major employers and expand our meetings with targeted industries to identify opportunities for future job growth."At the Chamber’s 115th Inaugural Celebration, the Chamber looked back on a past year of significant progress and growth in our local economy. That progress would not have been possible without the leadership and guidance of our outgoing chair, Ron Redfern. He has done an amazing job of leading the Chamber through a successful 2014.
As Ron passed the gavel to me, we will also soon welcome new leadership at City Hall with John Russo as City Manager and Gary Guess as City Attorney. I would like to commend Mayor Bailey and the Council for selecting these great additions to the City’s leadership team. It will be critical for the Chamber to continue our partnerships with the City and County this year towards building a stronger local economy.
Growing our local economy is the essential focus of this Chamber. It is central to every program we hold, every issue we take on, and every position we take. That means we will continually focus on opportunities to create more jobs for local residents. One big challenge we will take on this year is joining with UCR, the City, and the County, and state legislators to compete for a new California Air Resources Board facility in this community. If we achieve this, it will create a synergy of research and activity as well as an estimated 400 new skilled and high-paying jobs in Riverside.
But creating more jobs also means listening to those businesses that create the jobs we have. So we will continue to hold more visits with Riverside’s major employers and expand our meetings with targeted industries to identify opportunities for future job growth. And personally, I believe we need to focus on working with the City to create a public-private partnership for economic development and job creation in Riverside.
We still have many challenges and perhaps the most important is ensuring that March Air Reserve Base and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norco are protected from possible defense spending cuts. The units at these facilities are growing fast, with the Naval Surface Warfare Center recently hiring 120 new employees and the Air and Marine Operations Center adding 70 new positions. Many of these new employees are fresh from college for highly-skilled and well-paying positions.
The Chamber will continue to advocate to our leaders in Washington, DC that that their presence in our region contributes more than $1 billion in economic benefit and are key assets to our economy.
Above all else, we must continue to support our members. This means creating opportunities for them to make new connections to 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 also means keeping them informed on the latest issues impacting Riverside and the opportunities for them to engage and make a difference.
Clearly, we have a lot of work to do and I look forward to getting started with all of you.