There is good news to report if you’re a tech professional, recent UC Irvine graduate or a STEM star at an Irvine high school. More tech jobs are gravitating to the region than anywhere in North America, and Irvine is an integral part of that growth.
Employers – many from Silicon Valley or other conventional tech hubs – are expanding or relocating here. And they’re bringing thousands of high-paying jobs with them.
That’s the bottom line of a recent report from real estate giant CBRE.
“There’s a gravitational pull for companies to move here,” says Colin Yasukochi, executive director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center, which produced the report. “Large tech firms in particular are locating here to tap into recent graduates who are coming out of UC Irvine or other tech-centered universities.”
“Large tech firms in particular are locating here to tap into recent graduates who are coming out of UC Irvine or other tech-centered universities.” – Colin Yasukochi, executive director at CBRE
The jobs boom is led in part by Irvine’s electric-vehicle and high-tech manufacturing companies – industries that have gained a foothold in Irvine over the years.
Rivian, a Ford- and Amazon-backed electric truck maker, moved hundreds of tech jobs from Plymouth, Michigan, to Irvine last year, adding to the approximately 1,000 that were already here. The company, now valued at nearly $28 billion, recently signed a deal to deliver 100,000 all-EV delivery vans for Amazon.
Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, whose micro-satellites may help the next lunar landing, also chose Irvine when its Florida-based parent company, Terran Orbital Corp., searched for a new headquarters. The company is ready to launch even more jobs.
“We will be dramatically expanding our footprint in Orange County – in Irvine,” Marc Bell, chief executive and chairman of Terran, recently told the Orange County Business Journal.
Another satellite company, Finland’s ICEYE, also located its North American headquarters in Irvine earlier this year.
These startups add to the strong foundation of tech companies already employing thousands of local residents, including Google, Blackberry, Edwards Lifesciences, Oracle and Allergan.
Irvine residents benefit
The jobs migration to Irvine is a boon for local residents, according to Yasukochi.
“This is a big win for local employees,” Yasukochi says. “Companies are locating here to find the right talent, so yes, they’re willing to pay higher wages because they have access to the talent they need to carry out their mission.”
That’s due primarily to the deeply educated workforce being produced at UC Irvine and other institutions.
Driven by a tech ecosystem
This success is facilitated by what Yasukochi calls a “tech ecosystem.”
It’s a formula the great university towns of the world follow: create a city with job centers and housing around a tech-centered university.
“Irvine and UCI are like Palo Alto and Stanford, or Boston and Harvard,” he says. “The university forms a nucleus of growth that’s then surrounded by job centers and housing for the workforce.”
That’s been Irvine’s plan since its inception decades ago. The city’s Master Plan – drafted in the 1960s – called for “a city of intellect, built around the university.”
Irvine does have another distinct advantage over other world-renowned tech centers, Yasukochi says: “You can also go to the beach.”