We here at the Inland Empire Center for International Trade Development love trade & logistics jobs. In fact, with our past classes on Lean Six Sigma, Foreign Trade Zone training, and Customs Broker Prep class, you could say trade & logistics jobs are our bread and butter. So, when I attended the recent 2017 State of the Region event hosted by our friends at the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, I was thrilled to learn that the trade & logistics sector has been one of the leading job sectors for the region.
According to Dr. John Husing, the Chief Economist for the IEEP, 8,500 jobs created in 2016 were trade & logistics jobs. He also predicted that the region would create a similar number of jobs for the upcoming year. That is good news for businesses in the region who are in or dependent upon the trade & logistics sector. However, Dr. Husing also mentioned that this growth could be curtailed if the new Trump administration followed through with its plans for a border tax and continued to be hostile to free trade agreements. Since this sector is dependent upon the imports from abroad, any change in trade policy could have a negative impact upon job growth in this sector.
As a business owner in the region who is either in or dependent upon the trade & logistics sector, what should you be concerned about for this year? Here are some key things to look for this year in regards to your business:
Congress passing a border tax- As mentioned above, one of the biggest concerns Dr. Husing raised about the trade & logistics sector is the prospect of the Congress and the Trump administration passing a border tax on imported goods. This would raise the costs on goods, especially at the retail level, and lead to lower demand for imported items. It may boost native manufacturing, even in the Inland Empire, but be sure to follow legislative news coming out of Congress and plan your businesses accordingly.
Don’t ignore local manufacturing- One of the brightest spots for the region is our growing manufacturing strength. 13,775 manufacturing jobs were created in the Inland Empire between 2011 and 2016 and we are one of the only regions in the state whose manufacturing sector has been growing. There are some concerns about tough air quality regulations that could lead to depressed growth in this sector, but whether or not Congress does decide to pass a border tax, it may well be worth your business’ time to investigate local manufacturers.
Industrial space is still at bargain prices in the region- If you are thinking about expanding into an industrial or office space, Dr. Husing has some good news for you. While local prices have been rising like the rest of the country, the prices in the Inland Empire are around $0.50 sq. ft./month. Not only that, but office space pricing in the Inland Empire is averaging at $1.87 sq. ft./month, the second lowest in the state. The industrial space vacancy rate in the fourth quarter of 2016 was at 4% in the Inland Empire, the second highest in the state. Now may be the time to make that move!
Changes in shipping alliances- One of Dr. Husing’s guest speakers was Mike Christensen, Senior Executive for Supply Chain Optimization for the port of Long Beach. While he reported that growth at the port was solid, he also mentioned that there has been some changes in the alliances between shipping companies that could change how items are shipped to you from abroad. Keep your eyes open for news about these new alliances and plan accordingly.
If you want more details about the economic outlook for the Inland Empire, be sure to read the San Bernardino Sun’s article summarizing Dr. Husing’s presentation. Also, be sure to download Dr. Husing’s PowerPoint slides for all of the data he presented. Finally, if you are looking for advice on how to expand your business into one or multiple international markets, give us a call and we will set up a free consultation right away.