Metro Spotlight: Inland Empire, CA

California Expands Its Inland Economic Empire

The Inland Empire combines the majority of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, encompassing more than 50 cities, into the largest region of Southern California. Stretching 50 miles wide and 60 miles from north to south, the sprawling empire is surrounded by hills, valleys, and the Santa Ana and Santa Rosa mountain ranges. Its patchwork of small- and medium-sized cities, unincorporated communities, and suburban neighborhoods makes it the United States’ 14th largest metropolitan area. While its cities vary in size and income, economic growth within the entire empire is palpable, particularly in the financial services and retail industries.


Rancho Cucamonga is abuzz with business activity. Corporations from various industries operate within the city, but Rancho has been especially attractive to companies specializing in R&D, health care, financial services, retail, and the insurance industry.

Twenty-seven major office operations relocated or expanded in Rancho Cucamonga from 1994 to 2007, adding 3,619 employees to the city’s workforce. Some recent moves to Rancho include:

• Co-Op Financial Services added 200   jobs in 2007.
• Computek International created 20   jobs in 2006.
• PFF Bank & Trust relocated its   headquarters and back office   operations in 2006.
• Kiwanis International Western District   Office brought 50 jobs in 2005.
• Ameriquest Mortgage added 250 jobs   in 2004.

Rancho Cucamonga: A Range of Sites for a Range of Companies

Rancho Cucamonga offers a wide range of leasable office space, which allows a variety of businesses to find the right site from which to base or expand their operations.

Empire Corporate Plaza offers 400,000 square feet, including five two-story buildings varying in size from 75,636 square feet to 84,604 square feet. This project is currently leasing space.

Vintner’s Grove is a 138,000-square-foot, master-planned office and medical campus, including a 100,000-square-foot Class “A” office building, as well as smaller buildings ranging in size from 4,276 to 4,690 square feet in a campus-style environment. Vintner’s is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2008.

One Town Square is a four-story, 90,673-square-foot Class “A” office building. This mixed-use project features upscale apartment homes and work-live units, as well as restaurants. Each floor includes a 22,668-square-foot workspace. This complex is also scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2008.

Cucamonga’s Question: Cash, Check, or Credit?

Taxable retail sales in Rancho Cucamonga reached a record $2.6 billion in 2007. Over the years, Rancho Cucamonga’s Redevelopment Agency has encouraged growth of the retail industry, and national retailers have targeted the city’s affluent and upwardly mobile population. This initiative resulted in Rancho Cucamonga’s taxable sales setting records for more than a decade, even while Southern California was in a recession (1991 to 1993, and 2001 to 2003).

The most recent surge in taxable retail sales came about with the opening and expansion of the Victoria Gardens Regional Town Center, a 150-acre, open-air lifestyle center. This mixed-use development began with 70 merchants and has grown into more than 150 upscale retailers (Banana Republic, Coach), restaurants (P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, The Cheesecake Factory), and numerous office tenants.

A highlight of the town center is the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, opened in 2006, which encompasses the Lewis Family Playhouse, a 536-seat performing arts theatre; the Paul A. Biane Library, a second branch of the city’s public library system; and the 4,500-square-foot Celebration Hall, a meeting and event facility that can accommodate up to 450 people.

Fontana’s Fast Growth and Future Fortunes

Set in the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains and 50 miles east of Los Angeles, the city of Fontana, CA has a diverse economic base which includes a variety of manufacturing, retail, service, and distribution companies including Mercedes-Benz, Cliffstar (producer of Kirkland Juices), NAPA Auto Parts, and the Home Shopping Network.

Consumer expenditures in the city have soared to more than $2 billion, but many sectors, such as full-service restaurants, are under-served. This allows an opportunity for entrepreneurs and restaurateurs looking to expand their businesses to fill Fontana’s food service void.

Fontana’s population swelled to more than 188,000 people in 2008. Much of this growth is due to the city’s continuing annexation of unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County, which has made Fontana one of the fastest-growing communities in the Inland Empire. In fact, it is the third largest city in the region behind Riverside and San Bernardino.

Rapid population growth, coupled with economic incentive offers, available land, and the completion of the 210 freeway, has led to significant retail, hotel, medical, and office development in the Fontana community. The city, committed to social and economic investment, has embarked upon an aggressive, multi-year, $235-million capital improvement program focused on improving roadways, utilities, and other infrastructure to support current and future growth.

Fontana already is considered a major transportation hub with easy access to Interstates 10 and 15, in addition to the upgraded 210 freeway. Rail service is available from the Union Pacific Railroad, and Metro-Link runs through the center of town to the greater Los Angeles area. For air connections, Fontana is 10 minutes away from LA/Ontario International Airport.

Fontana was Southern California’s major producer of steel from the 1940’s until 1984, when its primary steel mill closed shop.

A Glance at Corona, CA

  • Corona encompasses 39.2 square miles in Riverside County.
  • Corona has more than 30 million square feet of industrial space and more than 3 million square feet of office space, of which 1.4 million square feet is planned or under construction.
  • Corona’s industrial development has played an important role in the growth of the city and its employee base. More than 83,000 people are employed there.
  • Corona has created approximately 53,000 jobs in the last 15 years.
  • The top five employment sectors in Corona are retail, construction, business services, warehouse and distribution, and manufacturing.
  • The city hosts three major highways and two nearby toll roads, providing easy access for the movement of goods to three commercial airports, two deep water ports, and two railways.

A Tale of Retail in Corona

The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos is Corona’s lifestyle hub, offering a mix of dining and shopping. The center offers more than 60 upscale retailers and restaurants including Coach, White House Black Market, and Anthropologie.

Citrus City Grille, a casual, contemporary restaurant with American and European influences, opened at The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos in March. The Corona facility is Citrus City Grille’s third location in Southern California and the region’s only restaurant with a lakeside putting green.

The 10,000-square-foot restaurant features an exhibition kitchen, a corporate meeting room with audiovisual equipment, and a lakeside patio with a fire pit. It hosts private parties and local artists perform live music throughout the week.