Focus: Temecula and Murrieta, the “Twin Cities of Southern California”
At the Rancon Group, we believe in the correlation between good jobs and a good housing market. In Southwest Riverside County, that correlation is critical to our success in managing our portfolio of residential properties. That’s why we monitor the economic temperature in each of the communities we are involved in, and periodically report those findings to you, our friends and partners.
Historically the center of economic development for Southwest Riverside County has been the Temecula Valley, and specifically the “Twin Cities” of Temecula and Murrieta. The economic history of this area dates back to the 19th Century when a railroad line was built to carry quarried granite, crops and sheep and cattle to markets north. The railroad was washed out twice during heavy rainfall periods and discontinued shortly after the turn of the century. However, the heavy rains in the 1890s did not wash away the natural attributes of this fertile valley.
Then and now the valley has been a crossroads for travelers (see Butterfield Stage Routes, Mormon Brigade, etc.). Its mild Mediterranean climate, rolling hills, scenic vistas, and clean fresh air--courtesy of coastal breezes--have always made the area an excellent place to live. Add to that its location, half-way between Los Angeles and San Diego and about 15 miles from the Pacific Coast, and you have a natural area for both residential and economic growth.
Today, the cities of Temecula and Murrieta each have populations of more than 100,000, and both are now classified as “metropolitan” areas. While residential growth has dominated development in the past three decades, economic growth has now taken the upper-hand in city planning activities. In fact, the two cities have recently joined forces in economic development efforts with a campaign called The Twin Cities of Southern California.
This joint-city effort is focused on business recruitment and retention, plus expanding programs aimed at higher education and foreign trade. Members of the Twin Cities team are working closely with Cal-State University, San Marcos (CSUSM) in developing a feasibility analysis to create a business incubator for bioscience start-ups and other business-friendly incentives. CSUSM has a satellite campus in Temecula and, according to Bruce Coleman, economic director for the City of Murrieta, is looking to expand in the area.
“Educational resources are extremely important for companies in the high-tech sector, whether they are starting up, expanding or relocating,” said Coleman in a recent interview. “One of our key objectives with the Twin Cities initiative is to bring higher educational facilities to the area, regardless whether they are located in Murrieta or Temecula. Educational resources, and subsquent high-paying jobs, benefit the entire region.”
Coleman said that the Twin Cities effort will also build an “eco system” for businesses in areas such as medical-device manufacturing, electronics, bio science, defense technology, and advanced manufacturing.
Christine Damko, economic development analyst with the City of Temecula, reports that the Twin Cities team has participated in numerous discussions with solar power and green technology companies as well as medical device and manufacturing companies. She said the Team also visited a bioscience incubator in Pasadena in February gaining valuable insights on developing a business eco system for bioscience-related companies.
“The Twin Cities effort is an important step toward a better economic future for the entire region,” said Damko in a telephone interview. “We are already seeing the results with several recent success stories bringing higher paying jobs to the valley, and very importantly, the cities of Temecula and Murrieta are now within San Diego’s Foreign Trade Zone, which will help companies cut through the red-tape and fees when exporting goods.”
Both Coleman and Damko say that foreign trade will be a key to the area’s economic future. Recently a Temecula businessman, Roy Paulson of Paulson Manufacturing, was named “Exporter of the Year” by the Southern California Small Business Association. Damko said that Paulson Manufacturing has increased business 25 percent “just from exporting.”
Not only foreign trade, but foreign investment is also playing a role in the area’s economic development. Recently, a foreign investor became the first in Riverside County to receive an EB5 Visa for investing in a business complex in Murrieta. An EB5 Visa is for foreign nationals who invest $500,000 or more and create at least 10 new jobs with the investment.
“The Twin Cities effort puts us in a position to pro-actively address the economic challenges of the future,” said Coleman. “We are planning for the future by working together for the benefit of the region and the future generation that will live here.”