Reflecting on 2019 and a 20/20 Vision for the Future

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Main News Photo

By Bryan Starr, president and CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber, as published in the Orange County Register.

As I reflect on 2019, I’m reminded of some extraordinary accomplishments made in Irvine by diverse residents, business leaders, and city officials who are dedicated to the continued success of our city.

One of our city’s finest distinctions is that for the 14th consecutive year, Irvine has been ranked as the safest city in America by the FBI, due largely to the Irvine Police Department working in partnership with the community and city leaders who maintain public safety as a top priority.

Responsible city management has led to Irvine’s rating as the nation’s financially healthiest big city, according to a study by a nonprofit organization dedicated to financial transparency in the public sector. Irvine is the most fiscally healthy large city in the U.S. with a surplus of $4,400 per taxpayer; ours is one of only 12 cities in the nation to have a surplus score. We’ve held this distinction for three consecutive years, indicating a long-term strategy in fiscal governance.

From a business standpoint, Irvine has been recognized as the fifth top American City of the Future, among comparably sized cities in the nation, by a leading foreign direct investment publication. To meet the demands of Irvine’s growing technology sector, this year the ultra-modern 1.1 million-square-foot Spectrum Terrace workplace opened attracting the likes of data giant Alteryx.

Through the Greater Irvine Chamber’s domestic and foreign direct investment work in 2019 alone, we’ve welcomed to Irvine’s strong medical technology ecosystem U.K. companies like 11Health, Forte Medical, and oneclick Cloud. These companies provide many high-paying jobs for our residents and help keep our already leading-edge medtech ecosystem one of the world’s finest.

Joining our world-class medical providers, Hoag, Kaiser Permanente, MemorialCare, and UCI Medical Center, is City of Hope with a $1.3 billion investment for a main health campus planned to open in 2022 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

This year at the Great Park—Irvine’s 688-acre sports and recreation mecca—several new features opened, including one of the largest public ice facilities in the country and a 40-acre natural area with trees, walking paths, and a dog park. And the future of the Great Park Balloon was preserved by FivePoint Holdings, which stepped up with a sponsorship so residents can continue to have access to a bird’s eye vista of our beautiful city—with free admission.

Another addition to Irvine are the Olympic rings as USA Waterpolo located their new headquarters in our city. Along with that are plans for a world-class aquatics center in the Great Park, which will serve as a training facility for the USA 2024 Olympic team and untold numbers of future champions and leisure athletes from the community.

Irvine’s retail centers also see continual improvements. This year, our shopping centers included a $30 million renovation investment at Woodbridge Village Center and $250 million at the Irvine Spectrum Center. Irvine centers continue to offer diverse dining and innovative menu options with new restaurants like Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum and Little Onion Mexican Restaurant.

Many of our schools have received high marks, including UCI, which was this year named the No. 1 college in California by MONEY, as well as the most environmentally sustainable college and the No. 10 most diverse public university in the U.S.

In 2019 we honored a number of individuals who have left their mark on the city and many who are making an impact with an eye on the future.

We paid homage to the late William Woollett Jr., Irvine’s first city manager. Under his leadership, Irvine experienced the creation of the Irvine Police Department, the opening of the Irvine Civic Center, the establishment of Irvine’s nationally acclaimed park system, and the passage of the landmark 1988 Open Space Agreement that preserved 16,000 acres of open space in Irvine.

We acknowledged the career of Dr. Glenn Roquemore, who led Irvine Valley College as its president for 17 years. He was an instrumental figure at the college and in many of the Chamber’s award-winning workforce development programs.

Recognizing some of Orange County’s finest young professionals who will lead us well into the future, the Greater Irvine Chamber honored 40 such individuals during the Chamber’s inaugural 40 Under 40 event at one of Irvine’s stunning hotel properties, the Marriott Irvine Spectrum.

As we close out the Chamber’s 40th anniversary year and plan and work with a 20/20 vision for the future, I see great success ahead for Irvine.

We owe it to our future to make a nod to the past. It is the Irvine Master Plan that has laid the foundation for the sustained economic strength, educational excellence, and stellar quality-of-life we enjoy today. Created by the Irvine Company 60 years ago, the plan ensured our city would be guided through carefully phased, long-term growth. The Irvine Master Plan remains committed to the principle of a balance of homes, businesses, jobs, education, and the preservation of natural open space, parks, and trails that we can all enjoy.

For more information on the Irvine Master Plan, visit

Category: Chamber News, Community News