This week we celebrate Economic Development Week. Since 2016, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) has emphasized the importance of economic development during a week in May: this year, from May 9-15. The ideals celebrated this week – of economic development standing at the core of well-being and quality of life – are embodied at CVEP.
Economic Development organizations come in many shapes and sizes. Some are public entities, like city economic development departments, or regional or state associations. CVEP is a non-profit, regional economic development agency, whose members include representatives from local cities, Riverside County, tribal communities, educational institutions, and local businesses. Our mission is a lofty one: to transform the Greater Palm Springs region, by inciting entrepreneurship and diversification of the economy.
Our regional home – the Coachella Valley, is rather atypical for a traditional regional economic development association. The typical association centers on one primary city, like the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation, or the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Many associated regions represent entire Metropolitan Statistical Areas, like the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin MSA, or the Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler MSA. But not the Coachella Valley.
The Coachella Valley is nestled in the southern center of the unreasonably large Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario MSA. By land area, our MSA is the largest in the country, not quite twice the size of the next largest, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale MSA. The Coachella Valley represents only 6% of our total MSA land area, and our population is only 10% of the total population.
The Largest MSA in the U.S.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses MSA’s to analyze labor markets and uses these data to formulate federal policies to stimulate economic growth, allocate social services (such as low-income housing), and allot federal aid and funds. Herein lies the problem. How are the Coachella Valley’s distinctive economic realities in any way represented by the averaged data of our two-county behemoth MSA?
Yes, there are some incredible advantages and opportunities of being in a country-sized economic region, the 20th largest in the US when ranked by GDP, and immediately adjacent to two other top 20 economies (including the 2nd largest in the US). But you can recognize at first glance of this map that the other 19 MSA’s center around very well-recognized urban centers. But our MSA is an amalgam of separate cities and regions, with no identifiable center, and very little national name recognition.
This is why an organization like the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership is so essential. Secluded here behind our mountain ranges and passes, we represent and advocate for the specific regional interests and needs of our one-of-a-kind 6% of the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario MSA.