Where Entrepreneurs Can Re-Imagine

City of Garden Grove, CA
Written by Samita Sarkar

In the northern part of famed Orange County, California, known for its idyllic beaches and serene quality of life, lies the suburban city of Garden Grove.
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With a population of 175,000, Garden Grove is conveniently located less than one mile from the Disneyland Resort, 12 miles from oceanside beaches, and 35 miles (about an hour’s drive) from downtown Los Angeles.

Founded in 1874, Garden Grove was a rural crossroads until the arrival of the Pacific Electric Railroad in 1905. The rail connection helped Garden Grove prosper into an agricultural town with crops, tourists, and eventually settlers. After World War II, servicepeople who visited California during training returned to raise families. The sudden boom turned Garden Grove into the fastest growing city in the nation in the 1950s. In 1956, over 60 years ago, the City of Garden Grove incorporated.

Its competitive land costs and lease rates, its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and LAX International Airport, and its convenient location between the West Coast capital of Los Angeles and the border town of San Diego, all combine to make Garden Grove a prime location for businesses in the heart of Southern California.

“The City has grown into one of the most diverse, innovative, and forward-thinking communities in Orange County,” Mayor Steven Jones tells Business in Focus. “We’re a place that’s re-imagining itself every day, through programs, projects, and developments that create a unique sense of ‘place’ for people to live, work, visit, and play.”

Jones states that the current Re:Imagine Garden Grove project will create a better and brighter future for the City. The project encourages the community to re-imagine Garden Grove in a whole new and exciting way. “Part of that master plan includes future transportation modes such as bike lanes that will connect one district to the next, and cultural arts and engaging activities placed throughout a more walkable- and outdoor- friendly city,” he says.

Garden Grove will also be upgrading its excellent transportation system to include the future OC Streetcar. “The OC Streetcar will be Orange County’s first streetcar. It will connect Santa Ana’s bustling downtown area with one of Garden Grove’s busiest thoroughfares, Harbor Boulevard, right at the border of Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort,” says City Manager Scott Stiles.

The City is always expanding and creating business developments that generate both temporary and permanent job openings in diverse fields. Current and future job opportunities include tourism and hospitality, the service industry, manufacturing, retail, and more.

One of the City’s largest job creation areas is the Grove District-Anaheim Resort, known as The OC’s leading family-friendly resort destination. Shared with the neighboring city of Anaheim, California, it is composed of several modern hotels and is home to brand name companies, like the Hyatt Regency, Marriott Suites, Sheraton, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, and Outback Steakhouse. The area is just a one-mile walk from Disneyland.

The Great Wolf Lodge Southern California is one of the many hotels in the Grove District-Anaheim Resort. Currently the number-one job-creating tax generator for the City, the Great Wolf Lodge Southern California offers an indoor water park, onsite accommodations, kid spa, and series of restaurants all in one resort.

Because tourism is a very important income generator in Southern California, Garden Grove is planning several prominent hotels and restaurant developments that will increase both jobs and tax revenue. The Disneyland Resort continues to grow with the added Star Wars-themed attraction that is due to open in 2019. The Grove District-Anaheim Resort will continue to accommodate Disneyland visitors and develop new attractions, like the Nickelodeon Resort. The City will also benefit from the 200,000 square-foot expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center. An upcoming development, known as “Site C,” will be located in the Grove District-Anaheim Resort. It is expected to be one of the City’s most ambitious hotel developments with three hotel towers on 4.3 acres of land.

Outside of the resort scene, tourists are drawn to local landmarks, such as the world-renowned Christ Cathedral, formerly known as the Crystal Cathedral. The breathtaking, postmodern reflective glass building seats almost 3,000 people. Today, it is the center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

Garden Grove’s most popular event is the annual Strawberry Festival, now in its 60th year. Over Memorial Day weekend, over 300,000 visitors participate in the largest community festival in California. Held at the City’s oldest park, the Village Green, guests can enjoy everything strawberry—including a slice of strawberry shortcake served by a local celebrity—while honoring the City’s agricultural roots.

But, even though Garden Grove boasts some of the most popular resorts and destinations in California, tourism is not all the City is known for. “Besides our tourist industry, our industrial area is home to some of the biggest manufacturing companies in Orange County. Companies like GKN Aerospace; American Metal Bearing Company; and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, a world leading producer of engineered, high-performance polymer products, sell to national and global markets,” Stiles tells us.

In fact, Saint-Gobain, a manufacturer with a hold in virtually every industry, has just announced a major product expansion and new facility for new, value-added, manufacturing production lines of automotive glass for Tesla.

There is also no shortage of retail businesses in Garden Grove. Several well-known companies that include ALDI, Smart and Final, and Gold’s Gym have recently been welcomed to the growing city. “I don’t want to forget the companies currently doing business in our city. Companies like Costco Wholesale, Walmart, Burlington Coat Factory, Home Depot, and several new car dealerships, including Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, and Chevrolet add to Garden Grove’s strong job and business presence,” Stiles adds.

Moreover, reasonable housing prices, year-round pleasant weather, and national award-winning schools make Garden Grove a desirable place to live. Garden Grove has city projects in the works that are designed to enhance its status not only as a popular tourist destination, but also as a place that newcomers would like to imagine having as their permanent home.

One such new development is SteelCraft Garden Grove, a unique venture that ties together open spaces and public places to create a sustainable indoor/outdoor urban eatery built primarily out of recycled metal shipping containers. It will feature boutique eateries, a brewery and wine vendor, micro-retail, and incubator space. Entrepreneurs can rent these incubators, which provide a low-risk opportunity to create a local artisanal food business.

“Once completed, SteelCraft Garden Grove will bring fresh new faces to the area and bridge the gap between our Historic Downtown Main Street and up-and-coming businesses,” says Mayor Jones.

Main Street, the original center of town, serves as an important landmark for Garden Grove. The charming area is a well-suited location for SteelCraft Garden Grove due to its unique eateries, shops, and iconic Gem Theatre, originally a 1930s movie theater, as well as the Festival Amphitheater. An additional new draw to the downtown core is the Open Streets event, a large component of the Re:Imagine Garden Grove project. Earlier this year, it attracted over 15,000 local and regional attendees to the downtown area to enjoy a 2.5-mile route closed to cars. Activities, demonstrations, art displays, live entertainment, gourmet food trucks and wine-tasting were just some of the many attractions.

“Another venture that’s been in the works for several years is Brookhurst Place, located along Garden Grove’s major thoroughfares, at Brookhurst Street and Garden Grove Boulevard,” the Mayor shares. This project will be the largest mixed-use, commercial and residential development to date. Phase I is planned to open November 2017.

“Not only will Brookhurst Place bring new investments and amenities to our community, it will be another indication of the benefit of doing business with our city,” says Mayor Jones.

There are also many other options for incoming businesses who are interested in locating to this diverse and vibrant community. The Little Saigon area has the largest population of Vietnamese-Americans in the United States, and is well known for its food, culture, and thriving businesses. Additionally, the Korean Business District, which draws many Korean entrepreneurs and patrons, allows residents to enjoy the Korean-American culture offered by the variety of shops and restaurants along Garden Grove’s namesake thoroughfare.

Whether seeking a new location for a manufacturing plant, a hotel development, or an artsy downtown boutique, businesspeople and investors should consider the City of Garden Grove, which is entrepreneurial and welcoming in its constant strive for growth and success.

The possibilities are unlimited in this expanding city, where life is whatever you imagine it to be.

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