SAN BERNARDINO, CA-Mary Jane Olhasso, Economic DevelopmentAgency administrator for the County of San Bernardino, CA, whooversees four county departments including redevelopment, workforce development, economic development and housing and communitydevelopment, took a few minutes to sit down with GlobeSt.com todiscuss everything from different happenings with the County, tohow California can remain competitive in today’s market.

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Dolce: Let’s start by talking a bit about the countyin general and your role at the Economic DevelopmentAgency.

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Olhasso: The County of San Bernardinois located at the heart of the Southern California marketplace withaccess to a 23-million-strong population and a comparable annualGDP of $2 trillion. The county encompasses 24 cities covering20,000 square miles, making it one of the largest counties in thenation and larger than 15 of the nation’s states. When you considertoday’s economy, locating a business in the County of SanBernardino may make the difference to business survival andgrowth. I oversee four county departments includingredevelopment, work force development, economic development, andhousing and community development. These departments work togetherto ensure the County of San Bernardino is well positioned tosupport expected resident and business growth. I also serve on theboard of directors for CoreNet Global, one of the most prestigiousprofessional real estate associations serving corporate realestate.

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Dolce: Describe the County’s Economic DevelopmentAgency.

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Olhasso: The County of San BernardinoEconomic Development Agency plays a critical role in implementingthe Board of Supervisors’ directive to create, maintain, and growthe economic value of the region. The agency provides many vitalresources for businesses looking to grow, residents seeking jobsand housing, and investors and developers seeking opportunity andcertainty.

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Dolce: What difference can working with an EconomicDevelopment Agency make to a business orinvestor?

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Olhasso: We must look at our industrywith an entrepreneurial perspective. If our companies aren’t openand making money, our cities aren't making money. Whether it’sfast-tracking permits or helping them find employees, we must workwith them, not get in the way of their success.

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Dolce: What can executives gain from a countylocation?

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Olhasso: There are measureableadvantages in terms of work force, infrastructure, and location.Two of the leading industries in the county are logistics andmanufacturing. We have one of the best transportation networks inthe world that includes proximity to the Los Angeles/Long Beachseaports, three large airports, a major highway system, and linksto the Union Pacific and BNSF railway corridors. Plus the county’savailable land and relatively affordable commercial space make itaffordable location for business and trade-relatedoperations.

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Dolce: What can you share about the county thatthe real estate community may not know?

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Olhasso: We have significant costadvantages. Available industrial spaces in Los Angeles, Orange, andSan Diego counties are between 40% (for warehouses/distribution) tomore than 100% (for R&D/flexible spaces) more expensive than inthe Riverside-San Bernardino metro area. Lower vacancy rates inSouthern California’s coastal counties also mean fewer choices ingeneral. County industrial spaces tend to be more modern, havebetter amenities and feature easier access to major highways andarteries.

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Dolce: What programs can you provide that benefitbusiness today?

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Olhasso: The county’s WorkforceDevelopment Department has programs to help businesses improvetheir operational efficiency, marketing capabilities, andmanagement expertise. Our Economic Development Agency provides freesite selection assistance to new and existing businesses includingconfidential site search for available properties based onspecific, client-provided site criteria, as well as coordinatingsite tours with real estate brokers and developers. We can alsohelp with financial and work force assistance through ourEnterprise Zones, Foreign Trade Zones, and LAMBRA districts to namea few. Plus we can assist in coordinating permits with variousdevelopment-review departments and provide expedited permitprocessing and plan checks.

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Dolce: What are you doing to help the developers andinvestors already committed to the county?

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Olhasso: The county is looking tomaximize its resources and work proactively with its private sectorto encourage greater job growth and investment. The County’sRedevelopment Agency is an example of how effective public -privatepartnerships can be and the unique benefits to businesses locatedin Redevelopment Project Areas. Redevelopment breathes new lifeinto deteriorating areas through the use of property taxesgenerated from a project area. These funds can assist in therenovation of industrial and commercial businesses and homes, aswell as spur new construction, removing barriers to new investmentby private enterprise.

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Dolce: Can California still remaincompetitive?

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Olhasso: Global leaders such as DrPepper Snapple prove how competitive we are today. Dr PepperSnapple Group, one of the largest beverage companies in the nation,built its new 850,000-square-foot facility in Victorville, CA, inthe county’s high desert region. Their new plant fills a void inits distribution network, allowing DPS to distribute product from aregional hub that the company once had to ship cross-country fromfacilities on the East Coast. The location enables the company tobetter meet their demands. They underscore the strength of thisregion in logistics. It’s still the location of choice for majorindustrial users' regional and headquarters operations and remainsCorporate America’s Global Gateway.

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of GlobeSt.com and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses GlobeSt.com, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for GlobeSt.com. Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, FashionLedge.com, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including MSNBC.com and Museums New York magazine.