Inland Empire Forecast Conference in Ontario is a Success

On October 9, Claremont McKenna’s Inland Empire Center and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management held the fourth annual CMC-UCLA Inland Empire Forecast Conference at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA. The Inland Empire Center (IEC) is a collaborative effort between the Rose Institute of State and Local Government and the Lowe Institute of Political Economy at Claremont McKenna. The IEC partners with the UCLA Anderson Forecast to produce these conferences.

Claremont McKenna’s recently inaugurated fifth president, Hiram Chodosh, introduced the event.
hiram chodosh

During the first portion of the conference, Jerry Nickelsburg, an economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast team, provided an overview of the national and state forecasts. Next, CMC Economics Professor Manfred Keil addressed the Inland Empire forecast. Professor Keil noted that the Inland Empire’s unemployment rate has declined from its peak, but this is largely due to a decrease in the labor force, a shift he described as unhealthy. He also stated that Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed minimum wage increase will likely harm teenage employment levels in the state.

A panel on health care and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the Inland Empire followed Nickelsburg’s and Keil’s remarks. Moderated by Randall Lewis, Executive Vice President of the Lewis Group of Companies, the panel included a presentation from Claremont Graduate University President Deborah Freund on the state of health care and ACA implementation in the Inland Empire. The other panel members were Janice Rutherford, Chair of the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors, and Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione.

President Freund’s presentation discussed the importance of younger people purchasing health insurance to level the costs for everyone. She also addressed the Inland Empire’s shortage of doctors compared to the state average; the panel added that this will require residents to shift towards managed care plans involving more nurse practitioners and other health professionals.

The conference came to a close with a final panel on industry reactions to the UCLA Anderson Forecast, which brought together business leaders from the area. UPS Regional President Noel Massie, Majestic Realty Senior Vice President John Semcken III, and Randall Lewis contributed to the panel, with Steve PonTell, National CORE President and CEO, as the moderator. During the panel, Semcken was critical of a hostile business climate in the Inland Empire. He stated that the conditions in the area make it difficult to succeed. Massie also noted that the high costs of the University of California system prevent many talented students from studying at those institutions.

Throughout the conference, each segment was followed by an engaging question-and-answer session. The event was well received by some 450 attendees.

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