Rialto Stepping Into Economic Success

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Two of the major focuses of Rialto’s redevelopment plans are to attract new “green” industries, which promote the use of new environmentally friendly technologies; and Rialto Renaissance, which is converting the city’s underused municipal airport into a mixture of commercial, industrial and residential uses.

As the nation and the Inland Empire step out of one of the worst recessions in more than 70 years, the City of Rialto is poised to take advantage of this with several large projects designed to bring jobs and revenue to the city.

“We are attracting new businesses and green industries to Rialto already,” said Robb Steel, director of the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Rialto. “Once the economy recovers more fully we will be able to accomplish even more.”

Two of the major focuses of Rialto’s redevelopment plans are to attract new “green” industries, which promote the use of new environmentally friendly technologies; and Rialto Renaissance, which is converting the city’s underused municipal airport into a mixture of commercial, industrial and residential uses.

Even in difficult economic times, Rialto has received national attention for bringing in two new companies, both representative of the types of “green” industries Rialto city leaders hope will someday be a key part of the city’s economy.

“They are models of the types of industries we’re looking for,” Steel said.

Enertech, which opened a plant in Rialto in March 2009, converts biosolids into fuel using a patented process known as SlurryCarb. This process removes more water, produces twice as much solid matter (fuel pellets) and uses 60 percent less energy than conventional ways of converting biosolids into fuel.

The company is obtaining its biosolids from the sanitation departments of Rialto and Riverside, the San Bernardino Municipal Water District, and sanitation districts serving Orange and Los Angeles counties. After converting them into fuel pellets, it is supplying clean-burning energy to fire the kilns of local cement companies.

Rentech makes synthetic fuel such as synthetic diesel and synthetic gasoline, primarily from yard waste such as pruned tree branches . It has a contract to deliver synthetic aviation fuel to the Los Angeles World Airports, including Ontario International (ONT) and Los Angeles International (LAX.)

This fuel meets California’s stringent clean air standards, and can also be used in other states.

The other major project, Renaissance Rialto, takes advantage of the airport’s proximity to two off-ramps of the 210 Freeway, and is expected to bring in businesses that can hire many of the city’s residents.

“We want to bring jobs that match all of our residents skill sets,” Steel said. “Some of our residents are highly educated, others have learned specific trades, and others might be seeking an entry-level job to help finance their further education.”

The Redevelopment Agency is now working with a developer to get through the City of Rialto’s approval process for large projects, and is also waiting for greater economic recovery. Once it can break ground, the developer will have to begin by installing infrastructure, such as roads and sewers.

Steel expects the first new businesses developed through Renaissance Rialto to open in 2013 if the economic recovery is as strong as expected by then. They will, in the first few years, operate alongside the airport, but within a few years, the city will convert the airport itself to other uses.

“It is a Herculean effort to convert a municipal airport to a multiple-use development on the scale of Renaissance Rialto,” Steel said. “But it has good prospects, whereas the property is expensive to maintain as an airport. and the City Council of Rialto believes this is a better direction.”

Rialto is a city of approximately 100,000 ethnically diverse residents, but still maintains a small-town, family-friendly atmosphere. It provides affordable opportunities for new businesses and new residents.

For more information about Rialto, go to http://www.ci.rialto.ca.us or call (909) 820-2525.

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