The Inland Empire is the region of Southern California comprised of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, located immediately east of the Los Angeles area. Many if not most people tend to consider it part of Greater Los Angeles, but our region has its own identity, its own challenges and its own unique opportunities to achieve economic prosperity. It is made up of more than 50 cities, towns and unincorporated areas, making it almost like a major metropolitan area many people do not know exists.

Growth in the Inland Empire has been dramatic over the last 20 years. The two-county region currently has close to 4.5 million residents, making it more populous than almost half the states in the country, and federal estimates suggest the area will add more than 300,000 more people every five years between 2014 and 2040. The region ranked 24th among metropolitan areas in economic output in 2013, with a higher gross domestic product that cities such as Cleveland, Kansas City and Cincinnati. A lot of this growth happened because residents and businesses, dismayed by the high cost of land in Los Angeles and Orange counties, moved east to seek affordable homes.

But the Great Recession, which hit the Inland Empire especially hard, changed the game in a lot of ways. The IEEP is working hard to improve the economic climate through a better quality of life. The strategies that met regional needs before must be changed to meet new criteria, because the Inland Empire has fallen behind in areas that include health care, education, job training and transportation issues, to name just a few. The IEEP is committed to addressing these issues, through new initiatives that involve the private, public, academic and not-for-profit sectors.

The IEEP is focused on building a future where the many communities in the Inland Empire have addressed these issues, transforming the region into one of the best in the world. This creates a strong regional voice that will have a strong influence on public policy at all levels, and make sure that the area enjoys its fair share of resources that allows for future growth. This is an effort that we ask our investors to hold us accountable for, and our efforts reflect their highest interests and priorities.