Santa Ana: Green Tech Is Booming and The Beaches Are Beautiful

Southern California was a major loser in the housing bust,
and no city escaped the battering that construction jobs took. In Santa Ana, those
jobs were down 12 percent in December from a year earlier. But Santa Ana
benefits from what Moody's's Mark Zandi says
are three broad, powerful forces that will drive job growth: demographics,
globalization, and green technology.

Huntington Beach

Nearby beaches like Huntington Beach help Santa
Ana attract retirees and 20-somethings — both of whom
will keep the jobs coming.

Santa Ana is the county seat of Orange County, which is home
to the University of California at Irvine. The county has 40 miles of coastline
with some of the country's most beautiful year-round beaches. So like
, Orange County — and Santa Ana —
draw the two largest age-groups: 50-somethings and 20-somethings. Retirees
flock here, bringing
healthcare and financial
consulting jobs
. Students and surfers boost education, retail, and tourism.
And the city’s proximity to the Port of San Diego puts it at the
center the globalization economy. Many Japanese corporations, including Mazda
and Mitsubishi, have American headquarters here.

As for green technology, Orange County and the surrounding area ranks 2nd in the country for clean-tech jobs, according to a href="">Clean Edge 2009 jobs
report. The residential and commercial solar energy businesses are growing,
thanks to an unending supply of sunshine plus federal and local incentives that
have made the systems cheaper to install. But the real activity is happening in
the clean
fuel and green transportation sectors
[pdf], says Tracey Grose, VP of
research and strategic development at the advisory firm Collaborative
Economics. Orange County’s strong vehicle manufacturing base has made
it an attractive hub for clean tech companies such as Blue Fire Ethanol, Clean
Energy Fuels Corp., and luxury hybrid carmaker Fisker Automotive, says Grose.
Now almost 6 percent of the area’s green jobs come from the
transportation sector, more than double the state average of 2.7 percent. href="">Fisker,
for one, plans to step up hiring dramatically this year, adding more
engineers, designers, sales, and marketing personnel to its headquarters in
nearby Irvine.

Photo via Flickr, Beverly & Pack. Additional reporting by Lindsay

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