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An Open Letter to Inland Empire Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners — By Mike Stull



An Open Letter to Inland Empire Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners:

By Mike Stull — Director, Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship –  Jack H. Brown College of Business & Public Administration

Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be. -Eeyore

We hear you. For the entrepreneurs and small business owners in our community, particularly those we work with day in and day out, we wanted you to be aware that we hear and understand your frustration with the uncertainty that you are dealing with. Many of the team members at the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) are themselves business owners, so the uncertainty and challenges hit close to home for us as well. Several of us have had to close businesses or put them on hold. This is an unprecedented time for business. This is not business as usual.

The good news in all this? The government is here and they want to help. In the face of the last great recession, such support was never there – the majority of the attention went towards the “too big to fail” category. Not this time around. It speaks volumes that our government is placing such a high priority on assisting small businesses.

Unfortunately, the Small Business Administration (SBA) programs were promoted via numerous media channels as if they were ready to go at the push of a button. They were not. The SBA, with programs such as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), have never had to deal with the scope of such a pervasive national disaster. The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a new program being launched in real time with no time for testing or fine-tuning. The process for setting up brand new procedures, taking in applications, reviewing docs, setting up accounts, making sure all info is secure, and delivery of the final product takes time.

Despite these challenges, the dedicated team of SBA professionals is delivering in a big way – overall, there has been outstanding progress and help reaching businesses –more and more every day. For example, in California, the SBA and its participating lenders processed nearly 113,000 PPP loans – a total of $33.4 billion – in just two weeks. According to the SBA, they processed more loans in that period than in the previous 14 years!

What can you do? Stay persistent and keep communicating with your lender if you are applying for any of these programs. Creatively do whatever it takes to gain access to the resources your business needs – just like the small business owner in Los Angeles who avoided the big lenders and sought out a small community lender in North Carolina to get his loan. Reach out to your peers and programs like ours for support – we are listening and helping business owners every day through our SBA-supported programs like the Women’s Business Center and Small Business Development Center. Our counseling services and webinars are some of the tools you can use to navigate these difficult times.

Don’t forget this – right now, you are the most important asset for your business! We believe the starting point for navigating the challenges is your resolve to survive and come out on the other side. As an entrepreneur, you already understand that NO is not really an option. You have operated a business long enough to know it takes an ownership mindset, drive for results, and the never-ending process of learning and adapting. This is what makes business owners unique from the rest of the population!

Will you come out on the other side? This situation will pass – just like the last recession. But will your business still be around? We cannot predict the future, and we know that some luck will be needed for every business. But WE are betting on YOU!

There are always options and you need to focus and analyze your true options – what is actually ready today and in YOUR control that will put you in a better place for your business. Many of you survived the great recession, when there were NO loan or grant programs to help. It is possible to get through this, but it may be the hardest challenge you will ever face as a business owner. We know that some businesses may be closed completely – yet if you have the ability to partially open and have the ability to forge on, pivot, or hold steadfast and be in some aspect of control, then do it! Take control and do those things that will keep you in operation and have you better positioned when one of the SBA or other support programs become available to you.

A final thought about the power of you. For many of you, when you first started your business, if we had told you that “you would not last 4 weeks let alone 8 weeks” the entrepreneur in you would have done everything in your power to prove us wrong. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are the strength of our economy and our nation. We need you now more than ever to dig in and hang tough! And remember we always stand for the entrepreneur and business owner – we are always here for you.

Our team is here to work with you on planning for your business operations now and beyond:

  • Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) –
  • Inland Empire Women’s Business Center (IEWBC) –
  • Coachella Valley Women’s Business Center (CVWBC) –
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC) –
  • State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) –

About the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) Established in 1999, the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) supports and celebrate Entrepreneurship & Small Business through innovative programs and educational resources. IECE coordinates academic programs that lead to business degrees in Entrepreneurship for undergraduate and graduate students as well as delivering experiential learning and student support programs such as the Fast Pitch Competition. In the local community, IECE offers existing and aspiring entrepreneurs a wide array of business advisory and mentoring services and entrepreneurial training programs that help them achieve greater levels of success in their business ventures. IECE was recognized internationally by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and received the Entrepreneurship Spotlight Challenge award for demonstrating leadership in creating (and incubating) cutting-edge business innovations through enriched student learning and experiential education; which ranked them among the top 35 entrepreneurship programs globally. California State University, San Bernardino is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in Inland Southern California. Opened in 1965 and set at the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, the university serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually. CSUSB offers 48 undergraduate, 35 graduate, and 1 doctoral degree programs and 14 academic programs with national accreditation.

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.


Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce to Lead California Delegation at GITEX GLOBAL 2023 in Dubai



Fostering Technological Synergy: Bridging the Tech Gap with Global Partners

Demonstrating the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce’s (IERCC) commitment to global tech collaboration and innovation, the organization will lead a California delegation to the world-renowned GITEX GLOBAL event in Dubai from October 16-20, 2023. Though the original invitation extended to IERCC’s President & CEO, Mr. Edward Ornelas, Jr., he will not be in attendance. Instead, the California delegation will be spearheaded by the Chamber’s newly-appointed CTO, Mr. Gabriel Rangel.

Organized by the Dubai World Trade Centre, GITEX GLOBAL 2023 promises to be grander than ever. The event is set to host over 6,000 exhibiting companies and startups, drawing more than 170,000 tech and business executives from over 170 countries. The mega-event will sprawl across 41 vast halls and, for the first time ever, will be held at two prominent venues – the iconic Dubai World Trade Centre and the new Dubai Harbour for Expand North Star, making it the host for the world’s largest startup event.

Mr. Edward Ornelas, Jr. commented, “While I regret not attending GITEX personally, I am proud to have Mr. Rangel at the helm of this effort. I’m confident that our delegation will foster new collaborations and present the Golden State as a tech powerhouse.”

This year’s conference adopts the compelling theme of “The Year to Imagine AI in Everything”. Attendees are poised to witness the grandest showcase of AI tech giants and industry frontrunners. Additionally, it promises to kindle profound dialogues and debates concerning the socio-economic implications of burgeoning AI technology.

“Leading the California delegation at GITEX offers us an unmatched platform to nurture and solidify relationships with global tech partners,” said Mr. Gabriel Rangel, CTO of IERCC. “As the technology landscape continues to evolve, it’s critical for us to be a part of these international collaborations. I’m honored to spearhead this mission on behalf of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce.”

An integral part of the California delegation, Mr. Ram Thanapandian, Principal Technology Consultant to the State of California and Chair of CA State Treasurer Fiona Ma’s Technical Advisory Commission, will be present, providing invaluable insights and representing the State of California Treasurer’s Office.

IERCC’s leadership in organizing this delegation underscores the crucial role that California plays in the global tech ecosystem and mirrors Dubai’s ambitious vision as encapsulated in the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33). This strategy aims to substantially expand Dubai’s economic landscape in the upcoming decade, securing its stature among the world’s leading global cities.

Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President of the Dubai World Trade Centre and CEO of KAOUN International, remarked on the invaluable contributions the California delegation will bring to the event. She looks forward to an event marked by knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and pioneering discussions.

For additional information on GITEX GLOBAL 2023, please refer to: GITEX 2023 Preview.

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Economist Christopher Thornberg, State Treasurer Fiona Ma Headline New Forecast Conference



Coming October 5th

Economic Horizon 2024: What Lies Ahead?

The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Beacon Economics and the County of San Bernardino, is thrilled to announce that the anticipated economic forecast conference, Economic Horizon 2024: What Lies Ahead, Inland Empire? will be held October 5th from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM at the El Prado Golf Courses in the vibrant city of Chino, California.

Esteemed economist, Dr. Christopher Thornberg will present complete outlooks for the U.S., California, and Inland Empire economies. “The Inland Empire stands at the crossroads of remarkable economic opportunities and challenges,” said Thornberg. “I’m excited to unpack the trends and shifts that will define the region’s economic landscape in the next year, and beyond.”

Known for his razor-sharp observations, and fun, energized delivery, Thornberg’s presentation will include pointed discussions about inflation, the Fed’s next move, housing markets, strengths and instabilities in the economy, and what current trends mean for the nation, state, and local region.

The conference will also be graced by the insights of California State Treasurer Fiona Ma as keynote speaker. In her words, “The strength of California’s economy is deeply interwoven with the growth trajectories of its regions. The Inland Empire, with its dynamism and resilience, is a testament to this synergy. I am honored to join ‘Economic Horizon 2024’ and share a vision where policies, partnerships, and potentials converge to elevate the Inland Empire to unprecedented economic heights.”

“This conference is a testament to the collaborative spirit of the Inland Empire and our commitment to fostering a robust, resilient economy,” said Edward Ornelas, Jr., President of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Our partnership with Beacon Economics and the County of San Bernardino aims to offer a platform for profound economic discussion, forecasting, and strategic future planning.”

Attendees can anticipate not only expert insights into the economy but also networking opportunities and a chance to connect with key business, government, and nonprofit leaders from across the region.

Full event details are available at:

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Bizz Buzz

Webb Investments acquires Silver Creek Industries, an industry leader in modular construction for schools



Webb Investments today announced the launch of a new company, Silver Creek Modular, after acquiring the assets of Silver Creek Industries, a highly respected modular construction company known for bringing innovative, sustainable and cost-effective solutions to the education industry. 

Silver Creek Industries’ existing business, including its employees and its Perris, Calif., manufacturing facility, will remain with the new company, with Webb providing the investment capital, resources and expertise to enhance Silver Creek’s presence in the modular construction marketplace.

The acquisition closed in June of 2023, following Silver Creek Industries’ Chapter 11 filing in the Central Bankruptcy Court of California.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Silver Creek into our family business, and look forward to building on our shared commitment to improving educational opportunities within communities across our region,” said Kiana Webb, CEO of Webb Family Enterprises. “This acquisition aligns with our strategy to invest in established firms that can help us drive community revitalization and inclusive growth, while improving quality of life and increasing economic output.”

Silver Creek Industries was founded in 2004 and has completed more than 1,000 projects in the education, commercial, medical, military, government and multi-family housing markets. More recently, the company’s focus has been on providing high-quality, sustainable modular buildings for schools and educational institutions. Silver Creek Industries is well known for delivering projects on time and on budget, with minimal disruption to school and the community. 

Webb Investments is a privately held, family-owned company focusing on creating a community development ecosystem that drives inclusive, organic growth and transforms the areas they serve. 

For more information on Webb Investments, please visit

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