Riverside has also aspired to be a place where sensible economic policies and sustainable practices converge. Seizing Our Destiny, Riverside’s strategic plan for the future, consists of eleven strategic routes, which will position the City as a hub for innovation in the coming years. Strategic Route Five, entitled “Being a Green Machine”, establishes the City’s commitment to green business and development, stating that “Riverside is the international magnet and model for sustainable business, environmental innovation and green living with a synergistic partnership of industry, City leadership and residents”.
As part of the Seizing Our Destiny initiative, Riverside offers special incentives to attract green companies and entrepreneurs. Many of these incentives are offered by Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) under the award-winning Environmental and Economic Effectiveness Effort (E4) Plan which fosters Riverside’s economic development while supporting sustainability initiatives. E4 helps to stabilize utility rates, encourages expanded use of renewable energy technologies and offers several aggressive business incentives and energy efficiency programs. Under E4, Riverside’s various rebate programs provide free audits and monetary rewards for improving energy and water efficiency as well as installing photovoltaic systems.
In 2010, City Council motioned to approve a new economic development rate structure in the City as part of E4, effectively incentivizing new green businesses to relocate to Riverside while also providing existing local business with a discount for continuing to operate in the area. Under the new rate structure, businesses would have to meet certain criteria to qualify as a high-tech, research, development, green technology or green manufacturing industry in order to be eligible for the discounted rate. The economic development rate calls for a four-year commitment that includes a 40 percent reduction in electricity costs the first year and a 20 percent reduction in the second year, with other substantial rebates offered the third and fourth years. The business retention rate calls for a 25 percent reduction in electricity costs the first year and a 15 percent reduction in the second year, with significant rebates offered in the third and fourth years of the four-year program. This benefit program helps to stimulate the local economy while also increasing the City’s sustainability; by attracting high-tech and green businesses, Riverside is better positioned to meet future needs and create jobs while also reducing resource demand.
To date, E4 has attracted or retained ten companies resulting in the creation of nearly 1500 jobs while retaining 700 more. Riverside’s business-friendly environment has brought an estimated $11.2 million to the City and reduced vacant industrial space by 1.4 million square feet.