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CSUSB professor serves on two Academy Award-nominated features as a consultant

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When the Academy Awards nominations were announced, two of the selected films, Pixar’s animated “Soul” and Disney’s live-action “Mulan,” had special meaning for Cal State San Bernardino – biology professor Stuart Sumida served as a consultant to the makers of both movies.

Sumida, who teaches in the CSUSB College of Natural Sciences’ Department of Biological Sciences, worked as a consultant for his expertise in animal and human anatomy to both the animators in “Soul” and special effects experts on “Mulan.”

“Soul,” which addresses big ideas on life through the exploits of a jazz musician, was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Animated Feature, Best Original Score and Best Sound. Sumida used his expertise in anatomy to ensure an accurate representation of a cat named Mr. Mittens.

“I was invited by the animation supervisors at Pixar to help to infuse believable types of movement and behaviors into the character of Mr. Mittens,” Sumida said in an earlier interview. “Although Mr. Mittens is a stylized animated character, the way he moves, walks and runs, and behaves as a cat are all inspired by real-life feline biology.”

The goal was to make Mr. Mittens act and move so much like a cat that viewers of the film would accept him as an integral part of the story and universe that was shown in “Soul,” said Sumida, who added that he didn’t hesitate when approached by Pixar.

“Mulan,” Disney’s live-action remake about a young Chinese maiden who disguises herself as a man to help her ill father to fight invaders in China, was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Costume Design. Sumida worked with FrameStore Visual Effects in Montreal (part of a multi-studio group that did the effects) helping on a Phoenix-like bird character.

The latest version of “Mulan” also had special meaning for Sumida. “It was nice to get to help on that one, as I’d worked quite a lot on the animated version Disney Animation did way back in 1997/1998,” Sumida said.

Sumida has served as a consultant on more than 70 films, television shows and video games since joining CSUSB. He served as a consultant to two films that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film – “Ratatouille” in 2008 and “Zootopia” in 2017.

Sumida lectures on a number of subjects that include human anatomy and physiology, evolution and topics in zoology. He is the author of three books and more than 70 journal articles – many with students, introducing them to the process of research and publication in refereed journals.

He is just as comfortable outside the classroom or lecture hall, be it in paleontology digs in Europe and the United States or reconstructing fossilized dinosaur skeletons. He is recognized internationally for his research on biological transformations that took place as back-boned animals adapted to life on land and as co-discoverer of the earliest bipedal animal to ever run on two legs, predating dinosaurian bipeds by over 60 million years.

The Academy Award nominations will be presented on April 25.

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

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Southern California’s newest destination is poised for even greater success in the coming years

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For Ontario International Airport (ONT) and GOCAL (Greater Ontario California), National Transportation Week (May 12-18) and National Travel & Tourism Week (May 19-25) are opportunities to showcase Southern California’s fastest-growing destination.

Tourism is a multibillion-dollar enterprise in the Inland Empire, accounting for more than 180,000 jobs and generating nearly a half-billion dollars in tax revenues to support essential services. At the heart of this robust industry sector is Greater Ontario, home to ONT, California’s most popular airport, as well as the Ontario Convention Center, Toyota Arena and the largest number of hotels and restaurants in the IE. Future developments such as the Brightline West high-speed rail system and planned expansion of the Ontario Convention Center will only enhance the region’s marketability.

“The word is out: The Inland Empire and Greater Ontario are the place to be when it comes to experiencing what Southern California has to offer. Our location, our great natural amenities and the investment that has been made in creating a vibrant and dynamic destination are attracting millions of people a year and creating a buzz around the U.S. and around the world,” said Michael Krouse, GOCAL chief executive officer. 

Research conducted by GOCAL and Visit California show that travel and tourism spending in San Bernardino County exceeds $5.5 billion, including $1.4 billion in spending at restaurants. Total wages paid within the hospitality sector across the Inland Empire exceed $5 billion per year. Today, hospitality ranks among the Inland Empire’s Top 5 employment sectors, and should reach 200,000 within 3-5 years, experts say.

Meanwhile, a recent study by Oxford Economics showed that annual spending by visitors traveling through ONT totals $2.7 billion per year, part of the airport’s $3.8 billion in annual economic impact.

“We’re proud of the role Ontario International Airport plays in the Inland Empire’s emergence as a premier international destination. As much as ONT connects our region to the world, we also connect the world to our region with direct flights from more than two dozen destinations – and growing,” said Atif Elkadi, ONT chief executive officer.

Last week, ONT announced that it expects 2.2 million passengers to use the airport this summer, up nearly 300,000 passengers – or 15% – from a year ago. Ontario has been one of the airport industry’s biggest success stories over the past seven years, with passenger volumes up more than 60%. This year, ONT is adding flights to and from El Paso, Nashville, Houston and Seattle. The airport also is seeing a record number of international travelers, which should only increase with planned expansion of customs services later this year. In its recently published Connect SoCal 2024 Regional Transportation Plan, the Southern California Association of Governments projects passenger volumes of 36 million at ONT by mid-century – nearly six times current levels.

“We are excited about the future, but also determined to grow the right way. Our region is in demand for a variety of reasons, including a quality of life that is unlike anything else in Southern California,” Elkadi said.

For GOCAL, the success of ONT further elevates the region’s attractiveness as a premier destination.

“We’ve got it all. Great recreational assets. Wonderful hotels and restaurants. A fast-growing international airport. And that’s not even counting our entertainment venues such as Toyota Arena, our world-class Ontario Convention Center and a cultural landscape that is attracting residents, businesses and visitors from everywhere,” Krouse said.

And the future is even brighter. With Los Angeles’ hosting of the 2026 World Cup and 2028 Olympics, the arrival of Brightline West’s Las Vegas-to-Rancho Cucamonga high-speed rail service within four years and a projected 25% increase in the Inland Empire’s population between now and 2050, the local hospitality industry is poised for more dynamic growth in the coming years.

“There is no question that the leisure and hospitality industry has become a major economic driver for our region,” said Krouse.

Added Elkadi, “It’s hard to imagine another region with as much to offer as ours. For Ontario International Airport, we see nothing but new opportunities ahead as we meet the needs of this fast-growing region.”

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Inland Empire Collaborative Launches with Grand Celebration

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Powering the Future of Sports & Entertainment through Collaboration

The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) is pleased to announce the successful launch of the Inland Empire Sports & Entertainment Collaborative (IESEC). The vibrant launch party took place yesterday at the popular Topgolf in Ontario, attracting an enthusiastic crowd of approximately 200 attendees.

The event was graced by a lineup of notable speakers, including Dave Allen, West Region President for NASCAR, James Washington, President of the NFL Alumni Southern California Chapter, Michael K. Krouse, President & CEO of the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau, Nikki Gatch, CEO of the Southern California PGA, Mike Burrows, CEO of the San Bernardino International Airport, and Edward Ornelas, Jr., President of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce.

These distinguished figures shared their insights on the potential of the IESEC to stimulate growth, foster community engagement, and enhance the local economy through sports and entertainment.

IESEC is proud to acknowledge its sponsors, Bank of America and the San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency, for their invaluable support. The Collaborative is a testament to the power of synergy, with agencies such as the Southern California PGA, NFL Alumni SoCal, NASCAR, GOCAL, San Bernardino Int’l Airport, Ontario Reign, Empire Strykers, Inland Empire 66ers, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Ontario Clippers, and Southern California’s Greater Ontario Sports & Entertainment Authority actively participating.

In true festive spirit, guests were treated to an evening of sumptuous food, refreshing drinks, and engaging golf play. The energy and enthusiasm echoed the IESEC’s vision of fostering a sense of community through sports and entertainment.

IESEC, spearheaded by the IERCC, is committed to promoting, supporting, and facilitating partnerships between local businesses and regional sports teams, and entertainment venues throughout the Inland Empire. The initiative aims to create memorable experiences while generating revenue, stimulating economic growth, and positively impacting the community.

“Our goal with IESEC is to build a stronger, more connected community united in its love of sports and entertainment,” said Edward Ornelas, Jr., President of the IERCC. “By bringing people together to celebrate the best that the Inland Empire offers, we are creating a platform for exciting new opportunities and experiences.”

IESEC, initiated by the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a consortium of experienced professionals dedicated to supporting sports and entertainment events in the Inland Empire region. Through partnerships with local businesses, community organizations, and government entities, IESEC serves as a central hub for promoting a wide variety of cultural and entertainment experiences. By encouraging community participation and economic growth, IESEC aims to build a stronger, more vibrant Inland Empire.

For more information about the IESEC and its ongoing projects, please visit our website at www.iechamber.org

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Latin pop duo Jesse & Joy come to Agua Caliente July 22

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GRAMMY-WINNING LATIN POP DUO JESSE & JOY COME TO THE SHOW AT AGUA CALIENTE RANCHO MIRAGE JULY 22

Extraordinaire Latin pop duo Jesse & Joy are embarking on a tour across the US and Canada to support their latest album, Clichés. Produced by Live Nation, the 29-city tour includes a stop at to The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Saturday, July 22 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets for Jesse & Joy are on sale now at www.aguacalientecasinos.com/entertainment.

Thanks to their authenticity, talent, and unique style, Jesse & Joy has become Mexico’s most beloved musical power duo, connecting with millions of people around the world. Their platinum-certified hits like “¡Corre!”, “Llorar”, “Me Voy”, “¿Con Quién se Queda el Perro?”, and “Espacio Sideral” are just a few staples of their vast catalog of memorable lyrics and melodies. Their career has been marked by sold out shows and multiple nominations to the music industry’s most prestigious awards, earning them a Grammy and six Latin Grammys so far, among many other accolades.

Show Information: Jesse & Joy
Date: Saturday, July 22, 2023, at 8:00 p.m.
Location: The Show at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa, 32-250 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage.
Purchase tickets:
Prices: $45 – $85, based on seat location.
www.AguaCalienteCasinos.com; (800) 514-3849

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