Commentary: You can find anything on Amazon — even our future

The Amazon campus, center, sprawls toward the south end of Lake Union in Seattle. The company wants to build a second headquarters, and Irvine is bidding to be the new location.
(The Washington Post / Getty Images)

When Amazon announced it was looking for a new city to build its second headquarters, many eyes turned to Irvine. As a highly educated, sunshine-filled city in the heart of three sprawling megalopolises, Irvine has a lot to offer the technology giant.

Of course, Amazon can offer Irvine quite a bit in return: high-paying jobs, opportunities for synergy with our universities and secondary schools, progressing Irvine’s already stellar reputation as a safe, skilled community. That is why the city is working to attract the 50,000-person skilled global technology labor force.

But those are not the only reasons that I believe everyone in Orange County should be pulling for this proposal. The most important consideration goes far beyond jobs and economic advantages. It even goes beyond Amazon itself. I believe what is truly important for our residents and business leaders to consider is the future.

I see the future grow every day, quite literally, as my wife and I recently welcomed our second child. As we watch a new life take shape, it is impossible not to consider the ramifications of every opportunity, every possible outcome.

We relish living in a community that has the best schools, the most beautiful open spaces and the most welcoming and energized community in the region. And we understand that to ensure this environment for my children — for all of our children — we need to progress.

Irvine is already a premier place to work, live and play. The opportunity to outpace the future, and to grow with one of the most game-changing companies on the planet, represents a seminal moment for our community.

It’s reminiscent of the moment 50 years ago, when architect William Pereira looked out on a ranch and envisioned a thriving, healthy city that would become the envy of the world. The Irvine Company designed the city of Irvine around a then-new University of California campus, setting in motion a master planned community that has been emulated — but never matched — everywhere from the East Coast to China.

From the outset, Irvine was different. The city was designed, grew and continues to grow following a vision that balances a full range of housing with nearby employment centers, all served by a generous road system, parks, schools, shopping centers and surrounding open space.

Today, we are the heart of Orange County, with more than 235,000 jobs, 26,000 businesses and 266,000 residents. According to a recent report on master-planned communities, Irvine was ranked No. 1 in the country.

The Amazon bid represents the same forward-thinking spirit that first gave shape to this amazing city. Irvine was built by people with imagination and drive.

I’m thrilled that my children will grow up in a community known for its innovators, like the game-changing engineers at Broadcom, the gaming wizards of Blizzard Entertainment, the cybersecurity gurus at Cylance, the Nobel Prize winners at UC Irvine, and, yes, even the tech geniuses at Amazon.

This impressive list joins other Fortune 500 companies who already call Irvine home and had the foresight to recognize the benefits of living, working and playing in the world’s foremost master-planned community.

I hope you will join me in supporting Amazon’s prime opportunity to join Irvine.

BRYAN STARR is the president and CEO of the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce.