How Entrepreneurial is Orange County?

John Bradley Jackson, Director of the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship, reviewed the findings of a recent study about Entrepreneurship in Orange County. The presentation happened at the November 20, 2013 meeting of SCORE’s Orange County Chapter. The local SCORE chapter is the nation’s largest and most productive chapter of the SBA funded organization which is dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small business.

Jackson discussed how Orange County compares to other regions in the U.S. when viewed from a new venture perspective. Other regions studied include Silicon Valley, Route 128 in Boston and Austin.  He first reviewed small business in the USA and their significance to the economy; the home based businesses and the “solopreneurs” were cited as little known catalysts in our economic recovery.

  • 28 million small businesses in the US
  • Over 50% of the working population in a small business
  • 52% of all small businesses are home-based

Next he addressed the myth of the low survival rate of small businesses. Jackson said, “It is urban legend that most small businesses fail in the first two years.” He cited that following SBA data:

  • 70% of new ventures survive at least 2 years
  • 50% of new ventures survive at least 5 years
  • 33% of new ventures survive at least 10 years

Patent activity, a leading indicator of successful entrepreneurship is on the increase in OC. In 2012, there were 2,300 patents granted to Orange County inventors which was up 48% from 1,500 in 2007. This steady increase clearly reflects on the innovative culture found in Orange County.

In fact, the Kauffman Foundation, the leading entrepreneurship think tank, identified that that there 530 entrepreneurs per 100,000 Orange and Los Angeles County residents making it the 2nd most entrepreneurial region in the USA among similarly sized Metropolitan Statistical Areas.  The statistic factors new business starts, financial events, and other entrepreneurial factors into its rankings.

“Yet, Orange County is different than the other hotbeds of entrepreneurship. OC has an unusually high immigrant population, a very large number of small to medium sized businesses, a Low number of Fortune 1,000 headquartered firms, and a very large number of family businesses. All this makes for a thriving local economy but one with an overall lower number of IPOs and other capital events.”

Jackson theorized, “Orange County is ‘sticky’ which means that the businesses formed in OC grow and thrive but many remain privately held and passed on to the next generation.  So, is Orange County entrepreneurial?  Absolutely.”


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