FIVEPOINT'S COMMITMENT TO JOBS AND ECONOMIC VITALITY
Irvine's economic success story
The O.C. center of innovation, technology and creativity is an employment powerhouse
By Terence Loose | May 22, 2016
By night, 250,000 people call the dynamic and diverse city of Irvine home. By day, that number more than doubles. Irvine is the region’s job engine, and it’s a shiny, high-tech one that attracts a highly educated, highly skilled workforce that swells the city’s daytime population to 600,000.
“The city is a major attractor for the county in terms of workforce, jobs, innovation and foreign investment,” says Lucy Dunn, CEO of the Orange County Business Council. “Scientists and engineers originally flocked to the county for military research and manufacturing jobs, which began to translate to basic bioscience and hi-tech research,” she says. “That spurred what are now some of the leading companies in the world, including Irvine-based Allergan and Broadcom.”
Irvine hosts 49 of the top 100 publicly traded companies headquartered in Orange County, according to the Orange County Business Journal. More than one-third of the companies ranked in the Fortune 500 have corporate presence in the city, according to the 2016 Guide to Irvine. There are 200,000 jobs in the city, resulting in a jobs-to-population ratio of 94.8 percent, the best ratio of all American cities of its size or larger. Last year, a division of the Financial Times of London ranked Irvine as the No. 3 Small American City of the Future for Economic Potential.
“Irvine has a healthy economic ecosystem, which is something every city needs in order to continue to thrive,” says Tallia Hart, President and CEO of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce. “It’s vital if people want to preserve what they moved here for in the first place,” she says.
The city continues to attract global companies opening U.S. headquarters and regional offices, which serve as “strong economic engines,” Hart adds, while Irvine is also home to many start-ups and entrepreneurial efforts that prove attractive for venture capital investment, as well as mergers and acquisitions.
The scale of Irvine’s job creation can be seen in every corner of the city. The Irvine Business Complex (IBC) is the county’s largest business center, comprising 2,700 acres. Further south, the Irvine Spectrum continues to draw technology and research companies. Businesses based in the IBC and the Spectrum account for 150,000 jobs.
And the Great Park Neighborhoods, a mixed-use, master-planned community, will add more jobs and homes for Irvine’s families. The first commercial development in the Great Park Neighborhoods, communication chip giant Broadcom’s offices now under construction, is an example of Irvine’s ability to attract leading companies.
“Broadcom is a major employer and global company. Its presence in Irvine is prestigious and represents the importance of the tech sector as a major industry cluster,” says Dunn.
Irvine Mayor Steven Choi is an energetic advocate of the city’s economic success. “Irvine is regarded as a very highly desirable business address,” Choi says, noting that employees are drawn to Irvine’s attributes, including public safety, excellent public schools and the weather. “Let’s emphasize and promote what we have as a city,” he says.
The mayor formed the Irvine Tech Advisory Council, a group of technology stakeholders and influencers, to offer advice on how to continue the city’s vitality. Choi says that success of the city is due to cooperation between academia, the private sector and the city.
Irvine’s business and high-tech employers don’t have to look far for a skilled workforce. The city is home to some of the country’s best public elementary and high schools, the world-renowned University of California, Irvine, as well as two-year, four-year and graduate school programs that include Irvine Valley College, Brandman, Concordia, and branch campuses of Chapman, Cal State Fullerton, Pepperdine and USC.
With Orange County poised to grow significantly over the next decade, and much of its growth in the hi-tech sectors, Dunn says Irvine’s strength and diversity, coupled with its focus on community, is vital to driving the region’s economy.
With prominence and desirability comes opportunity and growth, something Orange County and Irvine continue to enjoy. In fact, says Dunn, O.C. is on track to build 150,000 much-needed new housing units by 2040, including 9,500 in the Great Park Neighborhoods. But to keep pace with the area’s job growth rate, O.C. will need 250,000 new homes, she says.
“FivePoint is a terrific partner in ensuring all residents have access to quality housing right here in Orange County,” Dunn says. “The focus on creating a neighborhood with access to quality recreation, housing, and proximity to high-quality jobs is a prime example of the multi-range, community-based housing Orange County needs.”