California Dreamin’

A network of leaders came together at the California Economic Summit to help make sure that opportunity and a sustainable environment are watchwords for growth in the Golden State.

By Dominique Cantelme
From the January/February 2019 Issue

While California’s economy is one of the world’s most productive, those working through the California Economic Summit—a bipartisan network of public-, private- and civic-sector leaders that champion initiatives seeking to simultaneously advance economic growth, ensure environmental quality and provide opportunity for all—realize that something needs to change in order for more Californians to benefit from this engine of growth to attain the California Dream.

The California Economic Summit recently announced the launch of its 2019 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity. This updated plan for the state and California’s regions to work together to combat rising income inequality, growing economic insecurity and declining upward mobility, was based on the input of more than 500 participants at the 2018 Summit. The outlined agenda to address these challenges is as follows:

  • An updated strategy to Elevate CA that invests in early childhood education and builds a smarter safety net to help millions of Californians move out of poverty
  • The Summit’s One Million Challenges, which are targeted initiatives to expand the state’s skilled workforce, lower housing costs, create more livable wage jobs and invest in sustainable water infrastructure
  • Cross-cutting initiatives for encouraging rural economic development, promoting resiliency in regions recovering from wildfires and helping more communities tap the potential of new federally-designated Opportunity Zones
  • The “CA Dream Index,” a new scorecard the administration can use to track progress on all of these fronts

The fifth largest economy in the world, California’s job market added a total of about 17.28 million new positions in 2018, according to the California Employment Development Department. December 2018 showed an increase of 284,300 jobs (up 1.7 percent) from the same time in 2017.

While setbacks are normal, the Golden State ended 2018 on a high and if the leaders associated with the Summit’s Roadmap make successful strides, every year moving forward will end the same way, in some capacity. In the meantime, here are some areas of California that have been, and continue to, do their part to draw business, give it a home and help it and its workers succeed in making their California Dream a reality.


When luxury electric hybrid auto manufacturer Karma Automotive decided to locate a new site for its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, executives knew there was only one choice: the City of Moreno Valley, CA. Supported by Moreno Valley’s second-to-none pro-business environment, skilled and motivated workforce, strategic location and affordable lease rates, the U.S. automaker shipped the first units of its $130,000 luxury vehicle, Karma Revero, last year.

California Economic Summit
Moreno Valley is home to two Amazon facilities, which collectively take up more than 2 million square feet. (Photo: City of Moreno Valley)

“Moreno Valley had the right attitude and was very proactive for our interests here. The City, right up front, was interested in how they could support us from a hiring perspective. They were a partner from day one to the point when we actually started producing cars,” said Dennis Dougherty, President and Chief Operating Officer of Karma Automotive.

Karma Automotive and other Fortune 500 and international companies are thriving in Moreno Valley. At 4,500 businesses strong, Moreno Valley is home to ALDI Foods, Cardinal Glass, Deckers Outdoor, Masonite Doors, Minka Lighting, O’Reilly Automotive, Philips Electronics, Serta Mattress, Sherwin Williams, Skechers USA and many others.

Situated in the fastest-growing region of the United States, Moreno Valley in the Inland Empire is only an hour away from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties and less than three hours to Nevada, Arizona and Mexico.

At an annual growth rate of 4.99 percent, Moreno Valley’s population of 212,000 is booming. More than 2.3 million people live within a 20-mile trade radius and form a strong workforce of 1.1 million. This solid growth has propelled the City to become the second largest population in Riverside County and the twenty-first largest in California.

Moreno Valley led the region in absorption of more than 8.4 million square feet of new industrial corporate facilities in the past two years. The newly-approved World Logistics Center offers an additional 40.6 million square feet—the largest industrial corporate business campus in California.

Moreno Valley provides ample shopping opportunities with two regional shopping destinations and 40 shopping plazas. Major tenants include Costco, SuperTarget, Home Depot, Macy’s, Burlington, TJ Maxx/HomeGoods, Ulta, BevMo and more. There, restaurant chains outperform the national average by as much as 25.6 percent.

Riverside County’s hospital headquarters (Riverside University Health System) is located in Moreno Valley, along with Kaiser Permanente. Both campuses are expanding their facilities to meet strong regional demand.

“We’re growing in Moreno Valley,” says Corey Seale, Chief Operating Officer of Kaiser. “The concierge approach has been really positive. We encourage any other company who is looking for a great city to join us here.”

The housing market is booming, too. Residential construction is adding new housing opportunities with more than 7,000 single and multi-family units under construction.

Moreno Valley offers some of the most affordable corporate lease and land values, as well as the best housing value and cost of living, in all of Southern California. The average home cost is in the low $300,000s.

The City’s ideal Southern California location makes it simple to access sophisticated and convenient transportation systems. Moreno Valley’s own March Inland Port Airport, part of the March Reserve Air Force Base, allows for air cargo and private corporate flights, while passengers choose from five international airports within an hour’s drive. The City also offers multiple highway, rail and bus options.

Three colleges—the University of California, Riverside, California Baptist University and Moreno Valley College—attract more than 40,000 students each year. In total, 44 universities and community colleges educate 225,655 undergraduates within 50 miles of the City.

“One of the great things about the way Moreno Valley addresses the business community is to bring a team to present various offerings which shows what kind of value the City is offering,” says Dr. David Poole, Vice President of Cal Baptist University. “I have not seen a City work so closely in developing those kinds of partnerships.

The City has a strong workforce of more than 88,000, with more than 1.1 million in a 20-mile radius. March Air Reserve Base is the City’s largest employer with 9,600 employees. The second largest is Amazon, with 7,500. Many of the largest employers work closely with the City for their hiring needs, including Waste Management. Says District Director Ken Maxey, “Waste Management employs 210 people. Moreno Valley has a readily available workforce that will add to the value of any business.”

In Moreno Valley, time is money. They’ve formed a special concierge service and a quick-response strike team to assist developers and businesses with needs as they happen. And the City’s plan check turnaround times are unparalleled—they consistently beat other agencies in the region.

With its city-owned electric utility company, Moreno Valley offers attractive electric rate discounts that range from 7 percent to 26.5 percent. Businesses may receive an additional 2 percent discount for hiring 20 percent of their workforce from Moreno Valley residents or an additional 4 percent discount for hiring 40 percent of their workforce from Moreno Valley residents. Additional rebates exist for solar power and energy efficiency upgrades.

The City also developed the “Hire MoVal” program, which offers business license fee waivers and access to small business development resources. Together, the City of Moreno Valley and the County of Riverside run the popular Employment Resource Center, offering businesses free workforce recruitments, employee training, business consulting, workshops and job postings. Under certain criteria businesses receive incentives for hiring recent graduates as well.

“We had several areas of consideration to place a Hyundai dealership,” said owner Mike Brown, “and Moreno Valley was most favorable. The City has been amazingly easy to work with. They helped facilitate a Hire MoVal program for our recruitment needs.”

It doesn’t stop there. For businesses operating in imports and exports, Moreno Valley is a designated foreign trade zone. And under the Time and Materials program, businesses may be eligible for cost savings on post-entitlement Planning, Building & Safety, Land Development and Fire Prevention plan check, permit and inspection fees.

Moreno Valley’s ideal location, business friendly atmosphere and motivated workforce are why Karma Automotive and so many Fortune 500 companies have made it their home. For more information on what Moreno Valley can do for you, visit or email


A vast land of opportunity lies just an hour outside of Los Angeles. Known as Southern California’s Leading Edge, this group of high desert communities has been famed for its aerospace prowess for nearly 70 years. Supersonic travel, the Space Shuttle and advanced stealth technology were all born here. NASA astronauts train here and now commercial space flight is pioneered here, everyday.

With easy access to key transport corridors, rail service and three of America’s top seaports within a 70-mile radius, it’s no surprise that Southern California’s Leading Edge has found favor with many distribution and logistics firms. Global traders enjoy the tax and tariff advantages of its Foreign Trade Zones, as well. You’ll find the communities’ regional air quality district, separate and distinct from LA’s stringent South Coast AQMD, to be refreshing.

Savvy investors such as Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Bill Gross and Elon Musk have all established enterprises in the region. So have corporate giants including Boeing, BYD, GE, Hyundai-Kia, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Rio Tinto.

Strong industry clusters exist around aerospace, manufacturing, transportation, renewable energy as well as logistics and warehousing. Agriculture and mining, its first industries, remain key to the economy. TV and film crews frequently use the wide open and distinct vistas of the region as their industry backlot.

The Leading Edge may be separate from Los Angeles, yet it is still close-at-hand. The region places some 21 million Southern Californians at your doorstep; the Western U.S. is within a day’s drive; and new Pacific Rim opportunities are ready to explore.

When it’s time to choose a new place to grow your business, give yourself an edge: So Cal’s Leading Edge, where affordability, accessibility and availability come together, just north of Los Angeles. To arrange a tour or get more information, visit


There are many reasons why Vacaville is the place for your business venture. Some are more tangible—a low cost of doing business, affordable housing for employees and a staff willing to work “at the speed of business” when processing applications.

For example, you’ll be in good company. Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, ICON Aircraft, Synder Filtration and State Compensation Insurance Fund are a few of the companies that call Vacaville home.

California Economic Summit
Aerial view of Genentech’s manufacturing plant in Vacaville. (Photo: City of Vacaville)

And there’s plenty of space for your business to grow as well. Northern California’s top industrial developers, including LDK Ventures, Buzz Oates and Schall Realty Advisors, currently are working on over four million square feet of industrial space. The City also has over 1,200 acres of available, developable land.

But along with the tangibles, Vacaville offers many reasons beyond business to come to the community. A small town atmosphere with a growing big-city sophistication; countless community and neighborhood parks; a charming downtown; numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and rock climbing; countless shopping opportunities; and more.

With ready access to San Francisco and the vast resources of California’s Central Valley, Vacaville has become one of the fastest-growing “small towns” in the nation, a tight-knit community of 100,000—faithful supporters of art leagues, Scout troops, food drives, churches and bake sales. Quaint and charming, Vacaville’s position in the North Bay is key to its enduring success.

“We’re right here in the Bay Area, 30 minutes from the beach, Wine Country, Six Flags and Sacramento, nestled in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains,” says Don Burrus, Vacaville’s Economic Development Manager. “Access to major highways, airports, rail systems and four key ports makes us the ideal epicenter for transporting goods. All of Northern California lies within our reach, so Vacaville is the supreme ‘base of operations’ for incoming corporations of all kinds.”

Vacaville is a short drive from the Napa Valley; the Sonoma wine growing region is also nearby; and Lake Tahoe and all of its recreational opportunities are an easy day trip from the community.

With three primary water sources and 1,200 shovel-ready acres, Vacaville is ready to build year-round. High on the current docket is the City’s “East Main District” plan for developing municipally-owned parcels in the business district for mixed use, retail, restaurants and housing.

“We’re excited about what it will do for Downtown Vacaville in the next 18 months,” says Burrus. “We see our downtown as key to our ongoing growth as a community.”

Its Economic Development team has expertise working with medical device manufacturers, biotechnology production, advanced manufacturing, logistics and more. Vacaville has many choices for you, and is ready to say yes.

For more information about opportunities in Vacaville contact Don Burrus, Economic Development Manager.


Why Irvine, CA? Sometimes the address says it all.

Everyone knows that there are certainly less expensive places to start or locate a business—any city in North Dakota or Alabama for starters—but there isn’t a smarter or better place to start or locate a business than Irvine, California. And it all began with the stunningly forward-thinking vision that transformed 93,000 acres into an economic powerhouse and one of the most livable cities in the United States.

The Irvine family took a long view of this land and its place in the evolution of the area. They adopted a powerful proposition that the land, and all those who would live and work on it, would be best served by a Master Plan that fostered the highest quality of life through preservation of “nonrenewable” assets and resources. They conceived of artfully designed neighborhoods and villages, acres of open space and livable neighborhood centers and regional centers that would support a high quality of life and serve as an economic powerhouse for Fortune 500 companies and robust, cutting edge industry sectors in the Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology and Digital Arts & Media, just to name the top performers.

Why Irvine? Because the connection between people, their environment, livability and economic well-being was a guiding principle. The Master Plan approached every development detail with the precision of a neurosurgeon. The planners integrated their plan with the existing freeways and developed six lane arterials to increase mobility and accessibility. Infrastructure and supporting systems were designed to anticipate growth. Recognizing the efficiency, convenience and environmental advantages of proximity to work centers, commercial developments were strategically located close to villages. Unique residential villages were surrounded by open areas, recreational amenities and thousands of acres of preserved land.

More than 50,000 acres of the original 93,000 acres have been preserved for parks, trails and natural open space. The Irvine Company understood the value of balance in the sustainability equation. And the federal government and the State of California agreed when they assigned National Landmark status to this acreage recognizing its ecological diversity and environmental significance.

Spectacular office buildings rose in the Irvine Business Corridor. Beautifully manicured office parks attracted global companies. Edwards Life Sciences, Broadcom, Western Digital and Allergan were born here. And world-class lifestyle, retail and entertainment complexes like the Irvine Spectrum served as a magnet for yet another business corridor fueling innovation and technology development.

Why Irvine? Because education is essential to talent development, attraction and retention.

Education, considered essential to a sustainable community, was and still is, a priority. Rooted in Irvine’s premier K-12 educational system and its 15 university and college campuses within its boundaries, Irvine can claim an enviable 96 percent high school graduation rate and 69 percent advance degree rate that fuels a robust talent pipeline.