Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth in the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino


Private- and public-sector leaders from Riverside and San Bernardino counties have catalyzed an effort to forge a strategic agenda for advancing inclusive growth and opportunity that will benefit residents of both counties and put the region on the path to a more prosperous and secure future. This strategic agenda will endeavor to lift thousands out of poverty and broaden local access to opportunity by investing in better pathways to good jobs, improving educational outcomes, inspiring the region’s brightest young people to stay, and strengthening civic infrastructure necessary to address emerging opportunities. The effort to shape this agenda will span one-year, beginning in June of 2017. It is led and informed by a diverse set of stakeholders and expert who represent the residents and institutions of both counties.


The metropolitan region of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, also known as the “Inland Empire” or “Inland Southern California,” has historically been a place where individuals and families have come to seek good jobs, establish better lives, and pursue more prosperous futures. The availability of undeveloped land, combined with a low cost of living compared to the rest of California, has led to decades of rapid growth.

However, the region is struggling to deliver growth that provides opportunities for working families to reach the middle class. The region’s economy provides relatively few pathways to good jobs that provide stable, family-sustaining wages and economic security. Other social and environmental factors further confound access to opportunity and imperil the region’s future prosperity. These challenges and the lingering impact of the Great Recession have fueled a narrative for the region as one beset by problems.

Yet this region also boasts many advantages that it can leverage to secure a more prosperous and inclusive future for its residents—if its leaders are intentional. Over the years, various city, county and regional agencies have created plans to leverage these advantages to benefit their immediate service areas. But there has never been a cohesive strategy to address shared challenges and advance inclusive growth and opportunity throughout the entire region.

Today, the region has reached a point in its evolution at which its leaders must together begin framing its future directions and develop a broadly shared, concrete strategy to realize this vision.

Recognizing this, leaders from the private and public sectors in Riverside and San Bernardino counties have come together in the last year to catalyze a concerted effort to develop a strategic agenda for advancing inclusive growth and opportunity. Local leaders have organized committees and a core team of professionals to oversee and execute this effort. These committees comprise a diverse set of stakeholders from the region’s county and municipal governments, corporations and business groups, labor groups, civic and community enterprises, higher education institutions, philanthropy, the media, and other organizations. Additionally, experts and staff from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program will provide research and technical support to inform and advise the effort.