In an earlier blog, I discussed how the Coachella Valley is subsumed by the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Recently we teased the idea of succeeding and creating our own MSA, an idea that has been floating around the valley for quite some time. It turns out that MSAs must contain at least one county. So, to create our own MSA, we would have to create our own county as well. We continue to suffer the consequences of establishing enormous counties in the U.S. west.
Be that as may, we are also contained within one of the largest counties in the U.S., Riverside County. And while we are unique within our MSA, we are similarly distinctive within our county. Start with geography. The Coachella Valley is named from our most prominent geographic feature – the Coachella Valley Aquifer. We reside within the watershed of the Whitewater River as it drains to the Salton Sea. The ridges of our surrounding beautiful mountains are the edges of our valley. In fact, when aggregating data, we use the actual watershed as a boundary, usually cutting it off at its boundary with Imperial County. There aren’t many regional economies that can actually see their surrounding boundaries! Our location in a valley even separates us physically from the rest of Riverside County, reinforcing the sense of a truly separate region of Southern California.
As an exceptional enclave, we often get overlooked in the generalized economic and demographic information of Riverside County. A look at the table below highlights some of the real differences. While population growth in California subsides, estimates are the Coachella Valley will continue to grow at a steady rate, even more than Riverside County. We have a higher rate of income and wealth inequality to address in our valley. We have a much older population, with the proportion of 75+ ages 70% higher than the county. And we rely much more on a few key industries like agriculture, accommodation and food services, and retail trade, unlike the more diversified economy of the county.
These differences afford opportunities and challenges unique to our beautiful valley. CVEP is here to champion these distinctions of our unique economy.
Source: Esri Business Analyst 2020