“Mak[ing] the region a home of global innovation in the logistics industry” is one of the four strategies to inclusive growth identified by the IEGO campaign. The Inland Empire holds significant infrastructure and employment assets in the Southern California logistics corridor, and as a result, logistics has been one of the regional’s foundational industries and playing a crucial role in economic growth and job creation. As a global logistics and supply chain hub, the IE plays a critical role in ensuring that essential products and goods are readily available and delivered in a safe, efficient manner even in the most challenging of times. At the same time, the continued growth of the logistics industry is facing significant equity and sustainability challenges. As one of the only options to economic advancement for sub-baccalaureate workers, the logistics industry in the Inland Empire provides too few good and promising jobs for all the workers who need them. More than half of the logistics jobs in the region do not meet job quality criteria and thus do not provide opportunity for struggling workers to reach the middle class. To make matters worse, these low-quality jobs are especially susceptible to disruptions brought forth by the increased use of automation and digitization in the industry and could lead to significant displacement of the region’s most vulnerable residents. Additionally, negative externalities relating to the growth of the logistics industry, including emissions and increased congestion, if left unaddressed, will pose a significant threat to the sustainable growth of the region.

Therefore, the process of making the region a home of global innovation in the logistics industry needs a fair and balanced approach, incorporating input from critical cross-sector stakeholders and addressing the goals of increasing local industry competitiveness, improving job quality and ensuring equitable regional growth.

On February 27th, CSU San Bernardino and the Inland Empire Economic Partnership hosted a group of higher education institutions, public sector agencies, and regional employers to discuss the path forward for creating a Center of Excellence focused on sustainable logistics. Building upon previous meetings, Georgia Tech presented a refined concept for developing a Center of Excellence based on their technical expertise on the subject. The group worked to make the proposal actionable in the IE, specifically around education and training and research and innovation, and a capability study will be conducted to document regional training and research assets.

A need that emerged from this meeting was the imperative for industry to play a driving role in the development of a sector strategy. In addition to involving industry, next steps include aligning with labor and environmental justice groups to ensure the strategy leads to economic growth, quality jobs, and an environmentally sustainable future for all IE residents. The March 11 event hosted by UC Riverside’s Center for Social Innovation entitled Taking the “High Road” on Labor and Environment: How the Port of Los Angeles Experience can Inform the Inland Empire’s Logistics Future was a great opportunity to continue to connect these conversations and align around how a logistics sector strategy can lead to quality jobs and healthy communities.

Please contact Rebecca Ruan-O’Shaughnessy (rruanoshaughnessy@jff.org) for more information or to engage in this effort.