Manufacturing hotspot

The region known as the Inland Empire has become California's fastest growing area for economic development in the manufacturing sector, and has a supply of local skilled and degreed labor that can be used to establish a manufacturing facility. In 2004, the area produced 35 percent of the state's new jobs, a gain of 3,876 manufacturing jobs that represents a 3.4 percent job growth rate, compared with the nationwide rate of 0.2 percent. Comprised of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the region boasts a strong rail, highway and air transportation system, and it is the 17th largest major manufacturing center in the U.S. The Inland Empire's expanding role in manufacturing is due in part to its solid talent pool of over 200,000 degreed workers and its 27 colleges and universities. Institutions such as the Center for Competitive Technologies (CACT) at Riverside Community College, a state-funded workforce-training program, focus on providing workers with skills to improve the competitiveness of local manufacturing. According to Gene Cantreau, director of HR at Sierracin, a maker of glass and polycarbonate transparent laminates, CACT aided the company in returning to lean manufacturing practices through specially designed employee training programs. As a result of the training, employees have changed the way they think and do things on the shopfloor, which has improved product cycle times and increased total company shipments by over $30 million, says Cantreau.

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