By Lew Avera
Recently, I have written much about San Clemente and how we are surrounded by one of the most dynamic counties in the United States. Last month, I covered the entertainment industry and the number of hotel accommodations, annual visitors and revenues generated from this source.
Private companies are headquartered in the county and owned by private individuals and/or groups as opposed to companies publicly owned and traded on the stock exchanges. These represent individuals/groups that invest their personal money in the county and of course reap the profits generated by these investments.
The June 19-25 issue of the Orange County Business Journal (OCBJ) recently featured this group. Listed were the 112 largest private companies. The single largest company had 2016 revenues of $9 billion and employed 2,082 persons in the county and 3,418 companywide. The smallest of the 112 had revenues of $99.9 million and employed 213 persons only in Orange County. The total revenue for the 112 companies for 2016 was $89.9 billion. They employed a total of 54,687 persons in the county and 520,473 companywide.
San Clemente had two companies in this group of 112. Without naming them specifically, the 50th ranked company had revenues of $379.7 million while employing 189 in the county and 3,045 companywide. The 90th ranked had revenues of $180 million while employing 80 locally and 215 companywide. Together, the San Clemente companies contributed $559.7 million in revenues and employed 3,260 individuals. While so many of us only think of San Clemente as the tiny little “Spanish Village by the Sea,” clearly we are far beyond just this. Actually we are both: a village by the sea and a dynamic business community, and we are able to live both of these lives. To put this in further perspective, the majority of this activity is located in six of the larger cities of central Orange County in Irvine, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Orange and Anaheim.
Countywide not all is so completely dynamic. There are positive indicators and some negative, perhaps depending upon one’s personal point of view. We have a persistent and growing “economic underclass” leading to a calamitous shortage of affordable housing in some areas. The positive: according to the Employment Development Department, our jobless rate in Orange County is only 3.8 percent in June 2017, which is lower than California and the U.S. overall. Our high school dropout rate is only 5.4 percent, while statewide it’s 9.8 percent. Although, overall cost of living is twice that of the U.S. average. Recent homebuilding in 2014 and 2015 was mostly for higher incomes. As a result of this, lower-income families will migrate to other parts of the state or country with lower cost of living and less expensive housing. Much of this is generated by/in many cities which prefer commercial/retail development vs. multi-family housing yielding substantial sales/property tax revenue. In some areas, however, there is some trending toward multifamily development to accommodate lower incomes, but it is usually met with significant resistance.
Bottom line, we live in a dynamic county, but are still able to maintain a wonderful way of life which we are able adjust to our individual desires and well-being.
Lew Avera is a retired career officer, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps. He was a director of the Talega HOA and served on the San Clemente Planning Commission from 2005 to 2013.