The Corona Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors welcomed Maureen Collins-Williams to their 2016 planning session to discuss the future of economic development. It’s a new world which will require extensive long-term plans with many great changes over the years. Though plans have just begun and will involve many other players to implement, a proposal is being put in place to transform Corona into a place that attracts the innovators of the future. To be in a position to take on this monumental task, they needed to understand where we’ve been. Corona History Association Founder Don Williamson spoke about the incorporation of the City of Corona, its original master plan, and some of the successes and failures of past city planning. The federally-funded Urban Renewal of 1969-1970 was put in place to compete with the Riverside Plaza, but the Corona Mall never really took off, even after the revitalization. Then, the Galleria at Tyler mall opened, and it killed the Corona downtown plan. Only 32 of the original 136 businesses returned after the renewal. So what does this mean, over 45 years later? The old economic focus was on bringing manufacturers in, which, while still very important, is no longer what’s going to drive us forward through the 21st century. Innovation is the key to our future success. Approximately 30% (roughly 5 million) of all U.S. manufacturing jobs have left since 2000. The reasons vary but the message remains clear: the Chamber needs to be at the forefront, making sure the businesses know the Chambers cares that they’re here, they want them to come, they want them to stay, and they want them to grow. One way they’re hoping to get this done is by reviewing and updating ordinances. When cities enact legislation, the hope is that its effects will be long-standing, but that’s not always the case. The world is vastly different from what it was 100 years ago. We’ve all heard of companies moving overseas for cheaper labor and less regulation, but what about when a company moves from one state to another? If our city is not able to accommodate the types of businesses that want to be stationed here, the effects will be further reaching than we can even imagine. An interesting point brought forth by Collins-Williams was to pay close attention to technological advancements. It sounds obvious, but let’s look at it another way. Have you heard of Uber? How about Airbnb? This type of disruptive technology has long-lasting effects. The competition can be great for consumers, but it can be felt by businesses far and wide, and doesn’t just hurt the taxis or hotels. For example, when someone stays in a hotel or motel, a TOT (transient occupancy tax) is assessed. This is money for parks and emergency personnel, for quality of life improvements and city governance. Since there is not currently a TOT for staying at a personal residence à la Airbnb, that is money the city is also losing out on, in addition to the hotel. In one year, Airbnb doubled their bookings from 40 to 80 million. A deeper look into the ride-sharing industry would expose the heavy investing into driverless technology by Uber and Google. The NY Times estimates that between 2025 and 2030, there will no longer be a market for truck drivers. All of this change has a major trickle effect. We know that the transportation, lodging and manufacturing industries are all rapidly changing. It won’t be long before FedEx is making drone deliveries. We need to have positive regulations that empower, guide and support these new types of businesses. The role of the Chamber is to advocate for this with the City’s economic development department. They need to connect talent with funds, tools, and reasons to build here. By 2030, half of all jobs will be performed automatically by technology. Here’s a short-term look at the Corona workforce: the City is home to some 29,000 Baby Boomers, 18,000 Gen Xers, and 68,000 Millennials. Nationwide, 55% of Boomers don’t plan to retire until age 70, and 25% have no plans to retire ever. This sets the stage for how and what work will look like going forward. They are disconnecting healthcare from their jobs (due to the rise in Medicare enrollment), and creating a necessary culture change. The shift in generations is universal, but how it affects us in Corona, in Southern California, and in the U.S. is driven by culture. Corporations will be flattened out as office environments change to reflect what motivates Millennials. Going are the days where the corner office was coveted, where you started at the bottom and worked your way up the ladder for 30 years, where you got a gold watch when you retired. The target to keep in mind is 2030. The next 15 years will be very tough. Boomers are leaving the workforce at a slow pace and Millennials are trying to force their way in, and by 2030 they will make up 75% of the labor pool. How we weather the upcoming decade and a half will largely depend on if we can shift the way we think. Business owners need to let Millennials in, give them leadership roles, and mentor them. They also need to give Boomers options. The two generations have more in common than either think, and Gen X is going to be playing the very important role of bridging the gap and translating between the two. The Corona Chamber can affect positive change by honing their strategic planning and providing things that will attract Millennials. By recruiting people instead of businesses, the innovation and the entrepreneurship will come. The focus will need to be on having lots of open public spaces and walkable streets. By having a wealth of “third places” (somewhere to go besides home and work), coming up with a master plan to revamp a downtown area that’s full of character and authenticity, offering cultural opportunities and a stimulus- rich environment, the booming City of Corona will become a key player in innovative technology. The key Collins-Williams tried to emphasize was that if we build, they will come, and economic development is more about creating an inviting community than anything else. By understanding what our citizens need and what potential citizens want, a strong, healthy economy of the future is within our grasp.
Published by Moreno Valley Business Journal. View All Articles.