How cities win jobs in a changing economy

Cities will emerge as centers of opportunities while others decline, with enormous consequences ….”

That contrast is how economist J.H. Cullum Clark describes the competition among cities to attract innovative businesses and their high-paying jobs and tax revenue.

The question is – at a time when businesses and top talent have more flexibility to locate anywhere in the world than ever before – what are they looking for?

Some answers are coming from Gensler, a leading global design and architectural firm that regularly informs its clients about relevant trends.

Gensler’s most recent research describes how the cities most successfully attracting new employers are strategically planned to offer convenience, a healthy environment, and a sense
of community.

In particular, Gensler touts what it calls 20-minute cities in which “every commercial, residential and institutional need is within a 20-minute walk or bike ride of each other.”

Gensler’s research finds that 20-minute cities have public places that “bring people together while making them feel safe,” particularly parks, lifelong learning opportunities and entertainment options.

Many cities are just now making plans to create these opportunities. As it happens, Irvine is ahead of the curve due to its Master Plan design.

“Irvine is how people want to live,” Gensler’s James Young, the co-managing director of the firm’s Newport Beach office, told the Standard, praising the city for its Master Plan, “where people can live, work, play and enjoy the outdoors in a really wonderful way.”

Anderee Berengian, the CEO and co-founder of Cie Digital Labs, is one of many resident entrepreneurs who agree. Eight years ago, Berengian moved his home and business to Irvine, which he says offers the best “cultural fit and lifestyle fit.” Since then, Cie has helped launch a dozen new businesses.

“When it comes down to it,” Berengian says, “people just really want an awesome place to live.”

Here are six ways Irvine is already a “20-minute city.”

1. Top schools

Parents can send their children to the best public schools California has to offer that are located in the heart of Irvine villages. And then public school graduates can continue their studies at UC Irvine – voted one of America’s top 10 public universities.

2. The great outdoors

Irvine residents live within five minutes of neighborhood parks that connect to community parks and deeper into wilderness preserves. It’s why the city has been named the No. 1 Park system in Southern California for six consecutive years by The Trust for Public Land.

3. Job centers

Irvine has more residents who enjoy the convenience of living and working in the same city than anywhere else in Orange County due to a near-perfect jobs-to-population ratio.

4. Dine and shop

The star of the local entertainment scene is Irvine Spectrum Center with its 150 shops, restaurants and entertainment choices. Named the No. 1 retail center by OC Register voters, it’s positioned perfectly in the center of the city.

5. Getting around

More than 360 miles of bikeways connect residents to jobs, shops and even the beach, while OC’s most popular train station makes getting around SoCal a breeze.

6. Diverse housing

The city’s visionary Master Plan calls for a variety of home options: from the village lifestyle to apartment homes just a few steps from dynamic mixed‑use districts like Irvine Spectrum District and The Market Place.