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Why Irvine?

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

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Sometimes the address says it all.

By Linda DiMario, executive vice president, Greater Irvine Chamber. As featured in the August issue of NAWRB Magazine:

When people are looking to start or move a business to Irvine, it always starts with answering the question: Why Irvine? Everyone knows that there are certainly less expensive places to start or locate a business - any city in North Dakota or Alabama for starters - but there isn't a smarter or better place to start or locate a business than Irvine, California. And that all began with the stunningly forward thinking vision that transformed 93,000 acres into an economic powerhouse and one of the most livable cities in the United States.

Everyone knows the story of the Irvine Company. The family who owned 93,000 acres in what is now Orange County, and the company directors that followed, took a long view of this land and its place in the evolution of the area. They adopted a powerful proposition that the land, and all those who would live and work on it, would be best served by a Master Plan that fostered the highest quality of life through preservation of "nonrenewable" assets and resources.

An encroaching sprawl south from Los Angeles compelled the Irvine Company to take stewardship of the land in the 1960's in ways that would shape the City of Irvine and other communities in the area into the 21st century. They conceived of artfully designed neighborhoods and villages, acres of open space and livable neighborhood centers and regional centers that would support an economic powerhouse of Fortune 500 companies and robust, cutting edge industry clusters in the Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology and Digital Arts & Media just to name the top performers. 

The notion that a balance of "working, living, learning and recreational environments-all integrated in a logical and aesthetic fashion" was the core value that defined the design, its implementation and its sustainability. And it stood in stark contrast to how other communities and cities in the U.S. had evolved throughout the decades characterized by cycles, changing economic drivers and personalities, demographic patterns and investment or lack of investment.

Because the connection between people, their environment, livability and economic well-being was a principle. 

The Master Plan approached every development detail with the precision of a neurosurgeon. The planners integrated their plan with the existing freeways and developed six lane arterials to increase mobility and accessibility while employing a system of connecting roads into and around the residential villages. Infrastructure and supporting systems were designed to anticipate growth as well as diminishing demand on precious natural resources. Recognizing the efficiency, convenience and environmental advantages of proximity to work centers, commercial developments were strategically located close to villages. Commercial corridors were swathed in green space and supported by systems of recycled water and sustainable landscape management practices. Unique residential villages were surrounded by open areas, recreational amenities and thousands of acres of preserved land.

More than 50,000 acres of the original 93,000 acres have been preserved for parks, trails and natural open space. The Irvine Company understood the value of balance in the sustainability equation. And the federal government and the State if California agreed when they assigned National Landmark status to this acreage recognizing its ecological diversity and environmental significance.

Spectacular office buildings rose in the Irvine Business Corridor. Beautifully manicured office parks attracted global companies. What would become global companies like Edwards Life Sciences and Allergan were born here. And world-class lifestyle, retail and entertainment complexes emerged attracting residents and visitors from around the world.

Because education is essential to talent development, attraction and retention.

Education, considered essential to a sustainable community, was and still is, a priority. Nearly every village in Irvine has a school associated with it. And with the addition of a now nationally recognized university, the University of California at Irvine 50 years ago, UCI, with its well-earned reputation for research and development and attracting a global student body, would grow side-by-side with the new City of Irvine. Both would prosper in each other’s company. Rooted in Irvine’s premier K-12 educational system and its fifteen university and college campuses within its boundaries, Irvine can claim an enviable 96% high school graduation rate and 66% advance degree rate.

And that’s just the beginning. Innovative public-private partnerships have flourished supporting entrepreneur workshops, academies and camps for high school and community and four year college students. Competitions for inventions, business plan development and the next big idea have been nurtured here for over a decade. UCI’s new Institute for Innovation promises to greatly enhance an already strong start-up eco-system of hubs, collaborative work spaces, mentoring, capital, incubators and accelerators. All of these factors trade on the strength of Irvine’s reputation and the area’s capacity to generate world-class talent emerging from our schools and colleges.  

Because sustainability is a core value not an option.

For those who work here, nearly doubling the City's population during the day, and those who live here, the vision and stewardship of the Irvine Company which is protected and nurtured by the City of Irvine, is clearly in evidence every day.

We are surrounded by rolling hills, city blocks of green space, sumptuous office park environments, fountains and parks sustained with award-winning water reclamation systems, sparkling, well maintained Energy Star or LEED certified office buildings, wide, beautifully manicured  boulevards and thoroughfares built to manage and ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions, and clean and safe streets, office centers and neighborhoods.

It takes everyone working together to be named Safest City in America (population over 100,000) since 2005 and America’s Best Run City. And Irvine is always in the Top Five for Best City for families, Best City to raise children and Best City for young adults.

Because business thrives where the environment is fertile.

Six of the top twelve largest private companies in Orange County are headquartered in Irvine: Advantage Sales & Marketing, First Team Real Estate, Golden State Foods, Irvine Company, Fitness International and Vizio. Four out of five of the largest publically traded companies in Orange County are located in Irvine: Allergan, Broadcom, Western Digital and Edwards Lifesciences.

Irvine is home to four of the fastest growing, most sustainable, highest potential median salary industry clusters: Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Information Technology, Digital Arts & Media and Energy Efficiency.

The results of our Business Outreach Rallies and business surveys are further proof that Irvine delivers. Over 70% of Irvine businesses surveyed say that they are completely or very satisfied with Irvine as their headquarters for business. 71% describe their business performance as met, exceeded or well-exceeded expectations. Over 60% of Irvine businesses are preparing to add employees or expand in the next twelve months.

Why Irvine? Because this city cultivates the assets and resources that contribute to success. 

It was that original Irvine Company vision and commitment to its values of responsible development, preservation of open and green space, appreciation for scale and preparation for growth that make the City of Irvine unique. It is the City’s ongoing commitment to that vision that fuels the economic powerhouse capable of offering and sustaining the highest quality of life environment.

This compelling combination is what attracts and retains global companies, top CEOs, dreamers and entrepreneurs, start-ups and growth companies, the best and most highly skilled talent and foreign and domestic investment.

Our business community makes us stronger. Our public/private partnerships empower us. Our diversity energizes us. Our quality of life inspires us. Our commitment to innovation in all things distinguishes us. And helping business grow motivates us.

That’s what makes Irvine extraordinary.

For more information on Irvine as a destination, visit

Category: Economic Development, Destination Irvine, Community News

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