Business council highlights business-friendly cities

With national unemployment idling at about 9% and the federal government in perpetual gridlock, select cities in Orange County were recognized this week by the business community for cutting bureaucratic tape and boosting local economies.

The Orange County Business Council honored public agencies Thursday with the "Turning Red Tape into Red Carpet Awards," which lauded business retention and expansion, adjusting to globalization and creating sustainable environmental programs, among other successes.

Newport Beach was given an honorable mention in the Business Retention and Expansion category, with business council officials highlighting the city's new streamlined Community Development Department. Earlier this year, Newport Beach combined its planning and building departments, saving business owners and builders time and money in the approval process.

Irvine received the Responding to Globalization award for its City Council's efforts to create an international brand that attracts international companies. By participating in a sister-city program, sending officials on "friendship trips" to faraway lands to bolster the city's reputation, and hosting an annual Global Village Festival, the city has become home to offices for Toshiba, Hyundai, Google and Cisco-Linksys, among other international companies.

Huntington Beach was also recognized in the Business Retention and Expansion category. The business council pointed to the city's 10-point plan to boost the commercial sector — a plan that includes expanding the funding sources for small businesses, more economic development programs and a streamlined development process.

Finally, John Wayne Airport was honored with the Sustainable and Green Development award. The business council lauded the airport's central utility plant, which created 7,000 jobs during its construction.

The plant supplies 95% of the airport's power. For every dollar invested into the airport's capital investment program, $2 are circulated into the economy, which totals to more than $1 billion, according to the business council.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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