Spotlight on a Leader! Meet the Mayor of Riverside

 

An Interview with:

 Mayor Rusty Bailey 
    City of Riverside

 

 
Rusty Bailey

Mayor

City of Riverside 

 

Biography

Mayor William R. "Rusty" Bailey III is a born-and-raised Riversider. He graduated from West Point with a degree in political science in 1994 and went on to earn a Master's Degree in Public Policy from UCLA. He took office as the Ward 3 City Councilman on Dec 11, 2007 and served in that role until he took office as Mayor on Dec 11, 2012. A champion of responsible governance, Rusty will build on the special initiatives - Clean and Green, Sister Cities, business and higher education partnerships - that have made Riverside a model among Inland Empire cities. He is focused on making Riverside a vibrant, growing community; one which will be capable of providing the quality of life he believes his daughters and the next generation deserve. 

 

 Question:

 

How does the City of Riverside attract new business?

 

Answer:

 Through the city's Economic Development team. The City believes "Business First", and all city employees play a role in economic development. There is a culture of business development within the City with the goal of removing "red tape". One example is the "Concierge Service", wherein a single point of contact is assigned to a business to shepherd them through the various city departments and processes.

 The City of Riverside also owns its own municipal utilities and offers incentives to businesses to locate within the city. The economic development rate for electricity may be a discount up to 40% lower for the first year and then 20% lower for the second year. On average, the rate for electricity through Riverside Public Utilities is about 30% less than through SCE. The City utility also offers programs to help businesses further reduce utility costs by assisting with replacement of old fixtures with newer more efficient fixtures and weatherization of buildings. 

   

Question: 
 

Besides attracting new businesses, what does the City of Riverside do to retain existing businesses? 

 
Answer:
 

There have been very departures of larger businesses; a few notable departures were EZ-UP, and Fresh & Easy (Fresh & Easy corporation was recently sold). To encourage businesses to remaining Riverside, the City has invested in several projects. One is "Smart Riverside". The intention of this initiative is to attract and retain businesses by addressing the technology requirements of many businesses. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout about 75% the City. The city is working toward extending the fiber network and is looking into extending a line from the main fiber feed in Colton which runs to downtown LA.

A research park was developed in recent years just east of downtown Riverside, near the UCR campus. It has struggled somewhat during the economic downturn, but the infrastructure is in place and hopes are high for the near future.

In addition to technology, Mayor Bailey pointed out the downtown advantage in Riverside, focusing on the lifestyle and culture of the city. The city owns tow major performing arts theaters, the Municipal Auditorium and the historic Fox Theatre. Both have been recently contracted to Live Nation, one of the nation's largest and best entertainment management companies. This new management is expected to draw higher quality and more notable acts for both venues. The downtown area also is enjoying more restaurants in and around the downtown core and more nightclubs, mostly along University Avenue. A planned light rail trolley system is in the planning stages to run along University Avenue from UCR to market and also down Magnolia Avenue.

 The City of Riverside has also enjoyed long-term, stable city leadership, resulting in political and governmental support of local businesses. Mayor Bailey seeks to work with the local school district, businesses and hospitals to improve the local economy and employment base. Working also with the local colleges and universities, he envisions a skilled, educated work force available to employers that would keep the best and brightest in the City.   

 

Question:
 

What type of businesses does the City of Riverside pursue? What businesses fit best? 

 

Answer:

Mayor Bailey listed five categories of business which the City actively encourages to locate within the city: High-tech, clean advanced manufacturing, medical and education, professional and "green" businesses.

 To encourage high-tech companies, the city has initiated the Smart Riverside program (as already described) and the research park. Medical related businesses follow closely with the high-tech, as both can take advantage of Riverside's major colleges and universities. The City has four major colleges and universities including University of California Riverside, California Baptist University, La Sierra University and Riverside City College. All of these institutions are undergoing expansion and growth both in student population and programs offered.

The city welcomes clean manufacturing companies, meaning advanced stage manufacturing which requires final assembly and does not produce emissions. Distribution centers and other logistics type operations are not a good fit for the city due to its geography (nestled between steep mountains), the emissions produced and freeway system that is not adequate for consistent heavy truck traffic. Riverside does eagerly welcome companies engaged in 'green' or sustainable technologies.

 Riverside has numerous employers in both the public and private sector engaged in professional services. This is owed to having four levels of government offices located in the city: City of Riverside, County of Riverside, State of California and U.S. government courts and offices. The employees of these agencies, along with the many private firms who support and do business with the various government agencies, make up a large population of professional employees.

Question:

 

How is the City of Riverside addressing transportation issues?

 

Answer:

The City of Riverside has engaged in over 500 infrastructure projects in the past six years, including cultural, recreation, water and transportation improvements.

 As previously referred to, a light rail trolley line is in the planning stages, funded through a SCAG grant. Phase one would link the innovation corridor from UCR to the research park and into downtown along University Avenue, making a downtown loop. Phase two would run down magnolia Avenue from downtown to the I-15 freeway. Phase 3 would run along Mission Avenue (the former Pacific Red Car line) and along Allessandro Avenue. The extension of the Metrolink line into Perris is also still in the works.

Multiple improvements to the 91 freeway, I-215 and 60 freeway have been done over the past few years, are currently under construction and will continue in the upcoming years

Question:

 

What is the city doing, or can the city do, to mitigate the many obstacles to business created by the state of California?

 

Answer:

Unfortunately, there is little the City can do to undo the damage done by the state of California's business unfriendly climate. The best weapon cities and other local governments had to encourage and incentivize businesses was the redevelopment agencies. When the state of California abolished those agencies, the local governments were left with very little to work with and some were crippled. One positive the city of Riverside is doing is holding annual round table discussions with state representatives to discuss the local needs and economic situation.

Question:


What do you see as the role of the City of Riverside in the region, state and country?

 

Answer:

Riverside is, as its motto states, The City of Arts and Innovation. The City's cultural resources help draw artists into the area from the visual arts and performing arts. Additionally, the historic and unique architecture draws visitors; tourism is growing in the city. The newly renovated convention center, the aquatics center and the historic Mission Inn play a major part in drawing visitors and conferences to the city.  

 With a population of 310,000, plus a student population of 60,000, the City of Riverside is a major player among California cities. The mayor sees Riverside becoming the Athens of southern California; a major destination.

Learn more about this Leader and meet him at the Strategic Business Summit 2013. RSVP now at http://buildleaders.org/upcomingsummit.html

 

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