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Retail sector proves resilient due to continued population and retail growth



Specialty Grocery Stores, Quick Service Restaurants, and Fitness Brands Continue Aggressive Expansions

Population growth and new housing development in San Bernardino County are fueling strong retail activity across the region. According to CBRE’s 3rd Quarter 2021 Retail Market Report, net absorption, construction, and lease rates have all increased this year.

The report posted net absorption, which is the sum of square feet physically occupied, for third quarter at 140,781 square feet. New construction for third quarter was 926,428 square feet of space, a significant increase over second quarter 2021 construction activity of 110,690 square feet. Lease rates continue to improve as well.

“Neighborhood grocery-anchored centers are on a huge uptick and fast-food quick service restaurants are all expanding thanks to an increased emphasis on eating out versus dining at home,” said Ryan Gast, vice president of CBRE. He added that an influx of millennials into the county is making a difference. “Millennials on average tend to eat out rather than cook at home. That’s a factor in this sector’s expansion activity coupled with housing growth out here that is just outrageous.”

According to CBRE, the most active specialty grocers in the market include brands such as Grocery Outlet, Aldi, Sprouts and Amazon Fresh.

San Bernardino County’s median age is 33 years old, younger than the median age of California and the nation. According to the Jobs EQ, 2021 report, San Bernardino County’s lucrative millennial demographics (people from the age of 25 to 40) exceeds the state and nation as well, with continued population growth expected for the next five years.

Top San Bernardino County communities experiencing new retail development include Ontario Ranch and
Chino. To that end is New Haven Marketplace, a newly-opened shopping center in Ontario Ranch, anchored by a 45,204-square-feet Stater Bros. market. According to a major market tracker, Ontario Ranch replaced Irvine Ranch as Southern California’s top-selling master planned community this year and No. 5 nationally.

A benefit of population growth has been an influx of new brands into the region. In 2021 Top Golf, an internationally-renowned technology-enabled entertainment experience, began construction on its 6,000-squarefeet facility on 16.7 acres of San Bernardino County-owned land in the city of Ontario. The new facility will feature 102 hitting bays on three floors along with a restaurant and bar.

Gast shared that another trend is the increased activity by gyms. “They were one of the hardest, if not the hardest hit, of retail sectors during COVID. But now fitness brands such as EOS Fitness and Chuze Fitness are actively looking for deals in the county,” he added.

“While the pandemic has certainly impacted our region, it is not surprising that we have experienced such a strong recovery in the retail sector. As our population continues to increase, there remains demand for welllocated retail services and dining options. That is also why the County is ready to provide resources to new businesses that are looking to expand here,” said Chairman and 4th District Supervisor Curt Hagman.

San Bernardino County will be attending ICSC RECon 2021, considered the largest conference for the retail industry, held Dec. 5 to 7 in Las Vegas. Information about retail opportunities in San Bernardino County will be available at the County’s Booth #1541. To help encourage retail development and leasing San Bernardino County provides a wealth of information such as:

  • San Bernardino County Retail Property Book detailing development and leasing opportunities across the county:
  • Retail Overview Book which details important population data in county regions as well as locations of shopping centers and top employers, among other key points of information:
  • San Bernardino County Retail Infographic which provides county facts at a glance:

The San Bernardino County Economic Development Department supports retailers, brokers, and developers in
many ways, including: site selection assistance, business plan development, permitting assistance, workforce
assistance, demographic and market reports.

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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