coachella valley future

The Desert We Want

What lies ahead for the post-COVID Coachella Valley will be as brilliant as its innovators and leaders — and this is why we’re optimistic.

Steven Biller Arts & Entertainment, Current PSL, Vision

coachella valley future

Two years ago, at the Greater Palm Springs Economic Summit, a video captivated the audience of business and government leaders with renderings of the Coachella Valley in 2050. It included a Cal State Palm Desert with state-of-the-art bandwidth, programs in leading-edge technologies, and a branch campus at the Salton Sea, where just beyond the yachting and sailing center, students from around the world study environmental science, nutrition economics, and automated logistics. The imagined desert — including the Jacqueline Cochran International Airport zipping along as an automated intermodal center of trade for the Southwest — all appeared within the realm of possibility.

Then, the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the region like a roundhouse to the gut. Tourism screeched to a halt. Businesses, schools, and cultural institutions shuttered. Thousand of people lost their jobs. Thousands more tested positive for COVID-19. Most recovered or never fell ill at all. Some died.

• VIDEO: View The Economic Future of the Coachella Valley Webinar Series.

We’ve been living in pandemic conditions — spending most of our time at home, wearing masks, and social distancing — and coping with its cruel impacts for more than eight months.

And do you know what?

The ideas in that summit video still hold up.

“Those ideas are needed more than ever,” says Joe Wallace, CEO of the nonprofit Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, the summit’s producer. “And faster!”

Palm Springs Life asked leaders in key sectors of the Coachella Valley economy about how the pandemic affected them and how they plan to not only recover but also reimagine the future of their industries and institutions on a path to the desert we want.

Each headline below is linked to a discussion of that sector.


The season will be “high” again (If we follow the rules)

Arts and Culture

An enterprising spirit will propel the arts

Health and Medicine

Providers emerge better prepared for crises and eager to expand telemedicine

Real Estate

A residential boom and commercial bust


We need new ways to teach and learn

Salton Sea

Back to the future at the Salton Sea?