Category Archives: Economic Development

UCR Research Projects To Build Boomtown?

Let’s hope it happens sooner than later. Our neighborhood could use a boost in several areas, rental units not among them however. With the percentage of owner occupancy in the University Neighborhood at 35%,  some are saying we’re in a perfect position to attract more of those researchers who are likely to be found in their labs rather than in the classroom and off to Orange or LA County.

We have the perfect neighborhood to give “Live-Work” some vitality and flavor. After all, that’s how a lot of our neighborhood started – live work at UCR and March Field.  Here’s to the University Neighborhood Becoming Ground Zero for the next Silicon Valley.

Elusive Economic Indicator: Quality of Life Gauge


Money isn’t everything. But in measuring the success of nations, it isn’t easy to find a substitute.

Political leaders are increasingly expressing dissatisfaction with gross domestic product—a monetary measure of all the goods and services a country produces—as a gauge of a nation’s success in raising living standards.

In November, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to build measures of national well-being that would take into account factors such as peoples’ life satisfaction, following a similar effort by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Their efforts cut to the core of what economics is supposed to be about: What makes us better off? How can we all have more of it?

Anyone hoping for a clear-cut answer, though, is likely to be disappointed.

“There is more to life than GDP, but it will be hard to come up with a single measure to replace it and we are not sure that a single measure is the answer,” said Paul Allin, director of the Measuring National Well-Being Project at the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics. “Maybe we live in a multidimensional world and we have to get used to handling a reasonable number of bits of information.

After a session on creating a national success indicator at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association on Friday, Carol Graham, fellow at the Brookings Institution, summed up the situation thus: “It’s like a new science. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

For much of the past four decades, economists have puzzled over a paradox that cast doubt on GDP as the world’s main indicator of success.

People in richer countries didn’t appear to be any happier than people in poor countries.

In research beginning in the 1970s, University of Pennsylvania economist Richard Easterlin found no evidence of a link between countries’ income—as measured by GDP per person—and peoples’ reported levels of happiness.

More recent research suggests GDP isn’t quite so bad. Using more data and different statistical techniques, three economists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School—Daniel Sacks, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers—found that a given percentage increase in GDP per person tends to coincide with a similar increase in reported well-being. The correlation held across different countries and over time.

Still, for measuring the success of policy, GDP is far from ideal.

Making everybody work 120 hours a week could radically boost a country’s GDP per capita, but it wouldn’t make people happier. Removing pollution limits could boost GDP per hour worked, but wouldn’t necessarily lead to a world we’d want to live in.

One approach is to enhance GDP with other objective factors such as inequality, leisure and life expectancy. In a paper presented Saturday at the American Economic Association meeting, Stanford economists Peter Klenow and Charles Jones found that doing so can make a big difference.

By their calculation, accounting for longer life expectancy, additional leisure time and lower levels of inequality makes living standards in France and Germany look almost the same as those in the U.S., which otherwise leads the pack by a large margin.

Mr. Klenow points out that the calculation is fraught with difficulties. For one, many countries have poor data on crucial factors such as life expectancy.

For the purpose of comparing well-being across countries, asking people how they feel might be better than monetary measures.

Angus Deaton, an economist at Princeton University, notes that placing values on the extremely different goods and services consumed in the U.S. and, say, Tajikistan, can be impossible to do in a comparable way. Asking people about their situation could be much easier and no less accurate.

Surveys already play a meaningful role in the way many countries assess their performance, from consumer confidence in the U.S. to the Netherlands’s Life Situation Index, which accounts for factors such as relationships and community involvement.

As part of its effort to gauge well-being, the U.K. plans to add more subjective questions to its household surveys.

But surveys can also send misleading policy signals.

Mr. Wolfers, for example, has found that surveys of women’s subjective well-being in the U.S. suggest that they are less happy than they were four decades ago, despite improvements in wages, education and other objective measures.

That, he says, doesn’t mean the feminist movement should be reversed.

Rather, it could be related to rising expectations or greater frankness among the women interviewed.

Peoples’ true preferences are often revealed more by what they do than by what they say.

Surveys suggest that people who have children tend to be less happy than those who don’t, yet people keep having children—and nobody would advocate mass sterilization to improve overall well-being.

“What we care about in the world is not just happiness,” says Mr. Wolfers.

“If you measure just one part of what makes for a full life you’re going to end up harming the other parts.”

For the time being, that leaves policy makers to choose the measures of success that seem most appropriate for the task at hand.

That’s not ideal, but it’s the best economics has to offer.

Youth Horticulture Program Grows

10:00 PM PST on Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

A new program that aims to equip young adults with work and life skills is preparing to relocate to A.C. Dysart Park in Banning.

The program, Alliance for Youth Employment Skills, launched in September at Milo P. Johnson Center for Learning, a county schools facility in northeast Banning.

“There’s limited space here,” program coordinator Ben White said.

Students age 18 to 22 with learning disabilities are being taught horticulture.

From a former playground on campus, several students spent time Wednesday mixing perlite into soil. One student then shoveled the soil into plant containers.

On the ground were trays of young plants, including agave, rosemary, bush poppy, coffeeberry and wooly blue curls.

Story continues below

Paul Alvarez / Special to The Press-Enterprise
Omar Guiterrez, 21, of Banning, works in AYES’s horticulture program that is seeking approval to move to Dysart Park.

The students in this program have potted around two-dozen types of plants. They process and package seeds as well.

On days the weather takes a turn for the worse, the students move indoors to a classroom.

White said the same horticulture program will be taught at Dysart Park but on a larger scale. He said that based on the most recent discussion he had with city officials, his group may have access to 4,000 square feet of the park and a modular building that it would share with others.

The Banning City Council directed staff Jan. 11 to draw up a lease agreement with Alliance for Youth Employment Skills, or AYES. Banning may provide use of the park for $1 a year.

White said he hopes to relocate within the next 30 to 45 days.

At the Jan. 11 council meeting, some members of the volunteer committee that organizes Stagecoach Days, an annual affair at Dysart Park, expressed concerns about AYES’s use of the park.

“We want to make sure we have access,” said committee chairwoman Sue Palmer.

Don Smith, who once served on the City Council, said he was sure the committee’s concerns can be addressed in the lease agreement. Sitting council members voiced support for sharing Dysart Park with AYES.

Mayor Barbara Hanna said the park is empty most of the time.

White said having access to a larger venue will allow AYES to enroll more students, possibly twice as many. Twelve young adults from Banning and Beaumont are currently enrolled and with a homeless advocacy program for veterans providing funding, they are not charged a fee.

White and his four colleagues want to work with a broader spectrum of the community, such as young adults from the mainstream who are having a hard time finding work. White said they would learn skills transferrable to any number of trades. He said participants with and without special needs would learn to work with people who are different from them.

In this horticulture program, students primarily grow plants that are native to California and require less water than other greenery. White wants to use the group’s section of Dysart Park to demonstrate water efficiency.

White said the plants students grow could be used for landscaping in planned residential communities, at public buildings and by developers. He’d like them to do landscaping at Dysart Park.

Reach Erin Waldner at 951-763-3473 or

Alliance for Youth Employment Skills

This nonprofit project equips young adults with work and life skills through a horticulture program in Banning. The group has the following needs:

Freezer for storing seeds.

Small greenhouse.

Shade structure for shading plants.

Irrigation supplies, such as PVC pipes.

Gardening supplies.

Horticulture advisers.

Contact: To make a donation or for more information e-mail Ben White at

Riverside Loses Port Fight

An Orange County judge has ruled against Riverside’s 2009 lawsuit seeking to block expansion of the Port of Los Angeles and force the port to help pay for transportation improvements the project would require.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Bauer wrote in a March 10 ruling, made public this week, that the port expansion would have “an insignificant impact” on Riverside and that Inland-area demand for products will create increased train traffic even without the expansion.

I don’t know about you, but I seem to recall the City paying John Husing lots of money for his insight on how to promote the Inland Empire as the home of “cheap dirt”.

Judge rejects rule intended to limit train-yard pollution

Our economic destiny was supposed to come because of our unique suitability as a logistics hub.  After all we were only an hour from the mountains, an hour from the beach and an hour from the desert.  Just the perfect spot to sort crap and ship it on it’s way.

It just didn’t make economic sense to  sort all those goods at the port or pay for the full costs of shipping them from cheap labor countries to cheap dirt ones.

No, they had to stage them in the Inland Empire because we didn’t have the educational levels to support more advanced businesses like those that might come from green jobs.

I remember the Friends Of Riverside’s Hills suing the City and developers over the apparent disagreement over the value of cheap dirt in the Residential Conservation (RC) zoned areas of Riverside.

Husing questioned the city’s decision to take on the issue in court, particularly at a time when the recession has slowed shipping and train traffic. As if a 25 percent drop from 2006 to 2009 makes everything all right now.

An then there’s Moreno Valley permitting a Sketchers warehouse for additional truck trips.  Maybe one day they’ll regret that decision and start to realize as Riverside apparently has, that seizing our destiny goes well beyond short term solutions. And that disregarding the true costs, impacts and consequences of those them does little to prepare us for overcoming them.

Jobs Summit March 19th Nestande

you are invited to attend…

Legislative Summit on Jobs and Regulations in California: March 19, 2010

Dear Community Members,

With more than 15% of Riverside County residents out of work, the Legislature needs to stop making our economic problems worse and instead take action to lower costs and bring back jobs.

That’s why lawmakers need to hear from people like you on what we can do to get California back on track.  Please join me and other Riverside County legislators for a special hearing in Riverside on March 19 to hear from local job creators.  They will talk about how high costs and irrational regulations have made it hard for them to create jobs in California and compete with other states.

Come join the discussion and learn what the Legislature can do to put jobs first again.

Legislative Summit on Jobs and Regulations in California

Riverside County legislators, community leaders, local employers, local Chambers of Commerce

Friday, March 19, 2010
9 am – Noon

County of Riverside Administration Building
4080 Lemon Street, Riverside

If you are unable to attend in-person, you may also watch the live stream available here.

For more information or if you are a local employer that would like to participate at the summit, please contact my district office at (951) 369-6644 or send an email to


Assemblymember Brian Nestande

Please weigh in on the solutions to California’s economic crisis by taking a few moments to fill out our online jobs first survey. Click the image above to take the survey.

Brian Nestande

You’re invited to a Legislative Summit on Jobs and Regulations in California.

1223 University Ave, Suite 230
Riverside, CA 92507
951-369-6644, 951-369-0366 fax

73-710 Fred Waring Drive, Ste.116
Palm Desert, CA 92260
(760) 674-0164, (760) 674-0184 fax

State Capitol, Room 4153
Sacramento, CA 95814
916-319-2064, 916-319-2164 fax

Riverside Recognized As One Of 21 Smartest Cities In World

The City of Riverside has earned a distinction that only five other communities in the United States received.

Mayor of Riverside and Chair of Smart Riverside’s Board of Directors Ron Loveridge celebrated this extraordinary accomplishment saying, “The Smart21 designation is a significant honor recognizing that Riverside is a world leader in innovation and municipal technologies.”

The Smart21 Communities Award specifically cited Mayor Loveridge’s focus and leadership on technology initiatives which has produced a plan for tech-based transformation. Other achievements contributing to the award include partnerships with the City and universities to develop tech parks, incubators, business accelerations and mentoring programs; fiber and wireless networks reaching 80 percent of the City, and innovative programs that connect citizens with technology.

In case you missed it, The Press-Enterprise reports on the story:

City named one of 21 smartest in world

Riverside has been named one of 21 cities worldwide to receive the Smart21 Communities award.

New York-based think tank The Intelligent Community Forum recognized the city for its commitment to broadband, innovation, knowledge-economy, municipal WiFi, Digital Inclusion Program, SmartRiverside technology initiatives, e-waste processing, and collaboration with universities and CEOs.

Riverside shares the distinction with Dundee, Scotland; Tel Aviv, Israel; Ottawa, Canada; and Tallinn, Estonia.

The think tank seeks to share the best practices of communities in adapting to a broadband economy. For more information, go to