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Social media duo receives Mayor’s Innovation Award

Mark Menezes and Justin Hudson are receiving the 2024 Mayor’s Innovation Award for their influential @inlandempire Instagram page, a platform celebrating local businesses and the spirit of the Inland Southern California region.

Justin Hudson and Mark Menezes announced the @inlandempire account in August 2023.

Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson will honor Mark Menezes and Justin Hudson, creators of the popular @inlandempire Instagram channel, with the 2024 Mayor’s Innovation Award. The channel, known for promoting local businesses and celebrating the Inland Southern California region, has garnered significant attention for its content since it launched in August 2023.

The award will be presented Thursday, January 25, during the State of the City address organized by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce in collaboration with the City of Riverside. The address will stream on RiversideTV and the city’s social media channels.

Menezes, a Riverside native, and Hudson have grown @inlandempire to over 19,000 followers in just four months by posting videos of the duo’s restaurant and small business visits. Their coverage spans the Inland Empire, including a notable feature on Orangecrest’s home kitchen, Cali Tardka. Menezes, who also runs the successful @markfromriverside account, anticipates the new page surpassing his current 48,000 followers due to the broad appeal of the Inland Empire.

The partnership between Menezes and Hudson blossomed following a podcast episode hosted by Menezes at the Made shop on Magnolia Avenue. Their shared humor and interests have contributed significantly to the success of their collaborative efforts.

Hudson, an entrepreneur and creator of the 1LoveIE clothing line, has long held the @inlandempire account name. His vision to amplify Riverside and its surroundings materialized through his collaboration with Menezes. Their unscripted and light-hearted approach to showcasing local restaurants has resonated with the community.

As Riverside natives, Menezes and Hudson express deep pride in their city and the broader Inland Empire. The Mayor’s Innovation Award recognizes their contribution to fostering community spirit and highlighting the region’s diverse offerings.

Mayor Lock Dawson praised the duo’s creativity and impact, stating, “Mark and Justin have captured the imagination of the region with their insightful and fun videos that highlight the depth of Inland Southern California. Their innovative approach to social media helps bring our diverse region together.”