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Economic forecast for Southwest California is bright

More white collar, high-paying jobs will be created as professional firms move inland, seeking low-cost industrial dirt.

This will allow commuters to work where they live and avoid the stress of long freeway commutes.

The real estate market will rebound somewhat in 2008. These were the predictions for Southwest California of John Husing, an expert on the Inland Empire's economy, made at a recent presentation to area businesses.

The Inland Empire, made up of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, is dominating the growth of the California economy.

The Inland Empire economy is the center of economic growth in both recent history and the short term forecast for Southern California according to Beacon Economics in their 2007 Inland Empire Real Estate and Economic Outlook.

On a list of the hottest spots for population and job growth in Southern California, 16 of the top 22 cities in are located in the Inland Empire, including Lake Elsinore at number three with a compound annual growth rate of 9.8 percent between 2004 and 2007. Temecula comes in 10th at 7.5 percent and Murrieta, 12th at 7.2 percent.

"Southwest California is rapidly changing from a bedroom community for Orange County and San Diego, to a well-educated and vibrant region with its own jobs and employment centers," stated 66th District Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries.

"The economic growth here in recent years has been spectacular and we are well positioned to take advantage of the incredible growth predicted to come in the future."

The Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) predicts that Southwest California's population will grow from just over 1.5 million in 2005 to almost 2.6 million in 2035, an increase of 70 percent.

Employment will show the greatest gain, however, with jobs and population falling into better balance with almost 1.1 million jobs by 2035, up from 481,569 today, a 126 percent increase.

These numbers provide WRCOG with critical information when it comes to allocating resources for services and public infrastructure in Southwest California. WRCOG furnishes growth projections to the Southern California Association of Governments, the regional agency that produces the Regional Transportation Plan, the blueprint that leads to federal funding for transportation in the region.

In the Southwest Zone, Canyon Lake, Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, Temecula and the County of Riverside already have programmed 18 transportation projects with 15 under way now.

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