“Fastest job growth rate in over 20 years from 2021 to 2022,” said Robert Kleinhenz, CBA executive fellow and principal economist at Kleinhenz Economics. That was Kleinhenz’s key takeaway shared at the 2023 San Gabriel Valley Economic Forecast Summit, which gave attendees a thorough analysis of the region’s post-Covid economic rebound.
Presented by the Cal Poly Pomona College of Business Administration (CBA) and the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership (SGVEP) on March 14, the summit welcomed industry executives, elected officials, business professionals and education leaders for an update on the state-of-business in Southern California. The summit’s theme was “Don’t Panic! (yet) Pivot, Grown, Thrive!”
Kicking off the summit were detailed global, national, state and local economic reports and forecasts given by Baie Netzer, managing director at Bank of America, and Kleinhenz. Their insights showed that the leading economic benchmarks like job growth and unemployment rate are heading in the right direction with some sectors already exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
Despite obstacles such as labor and housing shortages and recent headlines about banking failures, the summit’s experts concluded that another recession is only a possibility but not imminent. Kleinhenz also cited that California is now the fourth largest economy in the world.
Delivering the keynote address was Rachel Michelin, president/CEO of the California Retailers Association. Echoing the summit’s themes of pivot and thrive, Michelin talked about the retail sector facing the brunt of the pandemic shutdown. However, businesses that adapted and improvised have continued to drive the state and local economic engines. One lucrative pivot was converting retail operations, in part or in whole, to becoming e-commerce-based distribution centers for delivery and pick-ups.
“Consumers spent $1 trillion more on retail goods in 2021 than in 2020 nationwide,” said Michelin on the increase in spending despite the economic downturn.
CPP and Industry Partnership
Representing Cal Poly Pomona and delivering the opening remarks was Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jennifer L. Brown.
Like businesses in the region, higher education also faces post-pandemic hurdles including perceptions of value, diversity and enrollment, Brown said. She also conveyed her confidence in the decades-long partnerships between the university, industries and government to meet those challenges and contribute to a thriving region and state.
“The landscape of higher education is changing, and we have to adapt — and are adapting — to ensure that our university and the communities we serve continue to thrive,” Brown said. “Cal Poly Pomona and the business and civic leaders of the San Gabriel Valley have proven capable and are committed to this effort. We look forward to continuing to collaborate to achieve our collective goals.”