The same factors that made San Bernardino County one of America’s hottest economies before the COVID-19 pandemic will give us a significant competitive edge coming out of it. Great location. A young, growing labor pool. A desirable quality of life and supportive business climate.

Critical to all of this is a workforce system that can connect the dots -- supporting business growth and economic development by making sure our pipeline of workers can meet the needs of employers.

With that as our focus, the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (WDB) embraces the important role we play in the post-pandemic economic recovery and is confident that our county and region will come out of this stronger than ever. This hasn’t always been the case in the Inland Empire, with its reputation for being first-in/last-out when a recession strikes.

Part of what’s changed are the workforce training partnerships and initiatives that have been developed over the past several years. Programs such as the Chaffey College InTech Center, the Fontana Mayor’s Education Coalition, the High Desert Training Center and a multitude of career pathways at the high school level have put a laser-beam focus on aligning workforce training with the needs of businesses.

WDB supports these efforts, while offering our own direct services to help businesses and job seekers. As a result, thousands of our residents have received training for, and have secured, good paying jobs in high-growth industries. Businesses now see San Bernardino County and the I.E. as a true economic center of activity, which in turn has increased our competitiveness in areas such as technology, advanced manufacturing, healthcare and global trade.

----- Online resource guide for business

There’s no question that the pandemic has hit us hard, but we’ve got the foundation and the resilience to come back even stronger.

At WDB, our Rapid Response and Layoff Aversion programs are helping employers adjust their business strategies to operate more efficiently.

Our Business Services team has created an online resource guide, has conducted free webinars for business owners on COVID-19 related topics, and has surveyed employers on their needs heading into the recovery.

----- Job seeker resources

For job seekers, WDB operates three America’s Job Centers of California -- all of which are providing support by phone during the crisis.

Services include help in finding a job, skills assessment, identifying career paths, updating resumes, preparing for job interviews and finding training programs.

For information on the programs available to businesses and job seekers, visit our website at: http://wp.sbcounty.gov/workforce/

As a business owner myself, I would like to thank all the employers and stakeholders who have supported our efforts over the years.

The Workforce Development Board is a body of volunteers led by local businesses and with a broad membership that includes public partners, educators, labor leadership and community-based organizations. Together, we’re committed to driving an economic resurgence and reaffirming San Bernardino County’s role as a business and employment hub for Southern California and beyond.

(Phil Cothran, a Fontana resident, is chairman of the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board.)

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