Irvine attracts big brands and lots of jobs

by Ellen Bell

IF IRVINE FEELS in balance – it is. One-third is parks and open space; one-third is residential; and, importantly, one-third is set aside for business.

These business districts – home to one-third of all Fortune 500 companies – create a strong tax base to maintain roads and parks and fund Irvine’s modern Police Department.

“The Master Plan set aside land for businesses to create jobs,” says Bryan Starr, CEO of the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce. “It ensured the local government is adequately funded. This is not the case in most other cities that struggle to make ends meet.”

Hubs of innovation

Irvine was master planned around two hubs of innovation – UC Irvine, with an adjacent Research Park, and the Spectrum District.

These hubs complement one another: UC Irvine and UCI Research Park generate ideas and research to cultivate startups, while established tech companies grow their businesses in the Spectrum District.

As a result, Irvine Spectrum District is home to several successful tech clusters that allow for the fast spread of new ideas and a concentrated talent pool from which businesses can recruit.

These clusters create thousands of high-paying STEM jobs that attract and retain extraordinary talent, according to Starr.

For instance, Allergan, a global leader in eye-care products, spawned a cluster of other medical-device companies, making Irvine “the ophthalmology capital of the world,” Starr says.

Driving value

All this points to a bright future for Irvine.

Its diverse economy protects and drives value for residents. High-paying jobs are plentiful. Wages exceed area averages. And home values outpace those in neighboring cities.

“The Master Plan is why Irvine provides more jobs per resident than any other city in America – with a nearly equal jobs-to-population ratio,” Starr says. “That’s the definition of balance.”