Tony Shin, James Wulff
Sysco opened its doors Wednesday in Riverside, bringing hundreds of jobs to the Inland Empire area, where unemployment hovers around 10.5 percent. The company is expected to hire even more employees as it grows. Tony Shin reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 15, 2013.
Workers at a new distribution center celebrated its opening in the Inland Empire on Wednesday.
Sysco Riverside will serve as a product shipping center for Southern California businesses including restaurants, hotels and hospitals.
The company created 400 permanent jobs, including more than 50 positions for IE residents.
Eileen Lopez, of Riverside, was hired as a merchandiser.
"It was almost godsend to come into this position," Lopez told NBC4.
Before this job opportunity, Lopez spent six months trying to find work without any success.
"It's hard," she said. "It's almost impossible to get into anywhere."
Her story is common in the Inland Empire, where the unemployment rate is 10.5 percent – more than a point higher than California’s unemployment rate of 9.4 percent.
"It is the highest for the 50 metro areas in the United States with a million or more people," economist John Husing said of the region’s jobless figures.
Since the 2008 economic crash, developers have been reluctant to build in areas where there are many of foreclosures because they can't compete with the low prices.
The foreclosure crisis has cost the inland empire more than 60,000 construction jobs, according to Husing.
"If you want to think about this whole process, think of a check mark: steep decline, long slow recovery," Husing said.
Husing believes the region’s economy is finally -- slowly -- moving out of that steep decline and into the long recovery.