Report: All jobs lost through San Bernardino base closure have been restored

Report: All jobs lost through San Bernardino base closure have been restored

Twenty-two years after the closure of Norton Air Force Base, the agency responsible for redeveloping the former base announced Wednesday that for the first time it has more than restored all of the jobs and economic impact lost when the base closed.

The Inland Valley Development Agency’s annual review found that the 14,000-acre area of the former base now employs 10,780 people and is responsible for an economic output of $1.89 billion, surpassing the totals lost when the base closed in 1994.

“This was a goal when I started here, and it looked so far away,” said Mike Burrows, the agency’s executive director, in a telephone interview. Burrows started to work at the airport in 1997.

The type of jobs is different: predominantly logistics, with Amazon’s 4,200 employees and Stater Bros. Markets’ 2,000 employees accounting for more than half of the total.

That doesn’t mean the city is worse off because of the switch, said economist John Husing, whose doctoral thesis studied the economic impact of Norton Air Force Base.

“The jobs that have come in are comparable or better than the jobs that were lost,” said Husing, an advocate of logistics development who did not contribute to the report. “Because of the spending pattern difference between civilians and military personnel, you only needed 75 percent of the number of people working there to replace the economic impact.”

That’s because much of the spending by Norton’s employees was at the on-base store, so the money did not recirculate into the local economy, Husing said.

The economic impact is adjusted for inflation since 1994, while the city’s population has grown nearly 20 percent since then.

The job total does not include an additional 5,000 part-time jobs created by Amazon and Kohl’s during the Christmas shopping season.

Nor does it include an additional 5,000 indirect jobs that help build nearly $1.9 billion of total economic benefit, Burrows said.

With the exception of the San Bernardino International Airport itself — the fourth-largest source of jobs in the project area, with 1,401 — the major employers aren’t directly tied to the former role of the base.

Amazon opened warehouses across the state, including others in the Inland Empire, and Stater Bros. Markets had its headquarters in Colton until it moved to the area of the former base in 2007.

But it took planning and preparation to get those companies to come to San Bernardino, Burrows said.

“Without a lot of inducement from us — infrastructure, roadway improvements, Mountain View Bridge, for example — we wouldn’t have those jobs,” he said. “It’s been a longtime strategic effort, and we’re very pleased that we’re seeing some results.”

Amazon said it was proud to be part of the milestone.

“We are proud to have created thousands of full-time jobs in San Bernardino and the greater Inland Empire community that offer competitive wages and comprehensive benefits starting on Day One,” spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said in an email. “... Our ability to expand operations within four short years is the result of three things: incredible customers, an outstanding workforce and a supportive community. Customers are seeing on a regular basis Amazon’s customer obsession, innovative culture and operational excellence — all of which are driven by our dedicated employees.”

The Inland Valley Development Agency has more projects — and more jobs — in the works for 2017, including continued infrastructure work and a focus on workforce development, Burrows said.

“We’re particularly going to focus on our K-12 schools, San Bernardino Valley College and the (San Bernardino) Community College District in making sure we’re doing more on the workforce development side,” he said.

The agency is made up of representatives from San Bernardino County and the cities of Colton, Loma Linda and San Bernardino. It is responsible for the development and reuse of the non-aviation portions of the former Norton Air Force Base.

“IVDA’s development of the Norton Air Force Base has proven to be a great asset to the San Bernardino community. We have positively impacted the economy with the creation of jobs and new business,” said San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis, who is also vice chairman of the agency and president of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority. “This is a fine example of the progress we have made in rebuilding San Bernardino.”


Stater Bros. - 2,000

Kohl’ - 1,500

San Bernardino Int’l Airport - 1,401

Kohl’s - 300

Pep Boys - 250

Pactiv - 200

Mattel - 200

Cott Beverage - 100

Pepsi - 100

Medline - 80

ODW - 80

Pool Corp - 75

Fender - 75

Kohler - 50

Interline - 50

Royal Appliance TTI - 50

Leggett & Platt - 50

Source: IVDA


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