Few places have been as devastated by the Great Recession as the Inland Empire, a region of 4 million people encompassing Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Unemployment has tripled since 2006. Home values have plunged 56% in Riverside County and 60% in San Bernardino County. Nearly 12,500 foreclosure notices were filed in the three months that ended Sept. 30.
Yet amid the stillborn subdivisions, abandoned storefronts and crowded unemployment offices, there are early stirrings of recovery.
Foreign companies are setting up manufacturing centers, attracted by cheap land and a weak dollar. Shoppers are trickling back to malls, with the latest figures from the state showing both San Bernardino and Riverside counties outpacing Los Angeles County in growth of taxable sales.