Orange County Business Council leaders gathered with government, business and community leaders last week to celebrate the best of Orange County’s local government at our inaugural “Turning Red Tape Into Red Carpet” Awards and Reception.

We often hear about what government is doing wrong these days, but this was a special opportunity to highlight what government is doing right in a tough economy.

OCBC recognized 10 local jurisdictions for implementing policies and programs that inspire confidence for business to grow and hire — critical given the state’s unemployment rate, second highest in the nation.

The diversity of nominations — 35 were received — speaks to the innovation and creativity that runs through all levels of government in Orange County.

Winners were recognized in six categories: Business Retention and Expansion; Real Estate Redevelopment and Reuse; Responding to Globalization; Public-Private Partnerships; and Leadership Award of Public Service.

While all the nominations exhibited creativity and innovation in cutting through red tape, the winners demonstrated exceptional work in presenting measurable results, planning and accountability, attributes critically important to the business community.

An outstanding example of the public and private sector working together is the Ortega Highway Widening Project, lead by OC Public Works.

Widening the 100-year-old Ortega Highway from two to four lanes from the Orange County-city of San Juan Capistrano boundary to approximately 1,900 feet east of the Antonio Parkway-La Pata Avenue intersection, was a complex project.

Yet the public and private sector worked together to expedite the implementation of the project through innovative features, including design management responsibility to a private company, Rancho Mission Viejo, while coordinating with 12 utility agencies and a local school district, all the while providing traffic congestion relief and safer access for the general public.

In addition, state of the art highway design incorporated natural features for enhancing scenic beauty, including bio-swales, rubberized asphalt to lower road noise, bike-and-hike trails, and preservation of agriculture and parks.

Another outstanding project recognized for its creativity and public-private integration is the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC). ARTIC will combine a transportation gateway and mixed-use activity center on a 16-acre site owned by the Orange County Transportation Authority and the city of Anaheim. ARTIC will serve as a hub for Orange County and the region, a landmark where freeways, major arterials, bus routes and Orange County’s backbone rail transit system converge.

ARTIC is an excellent example of the public sector taking on, and completing, the risks of land entitlement, zoning and environmental cleanup and preparing the land for both public and private sector development when the economy recovers. The private sector benefits with certainty, early efficiencies and cost savings in planning for ultimate development uses, that may include commercial, retail and residential, as well as a world-class transportation center benefiting all of Orange County.

Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Bill Campbell received the Leadership Award for Public Service for his dedication to innovative clean energy programs that benefit residents, businesses and taxpayers. The city of Irvine received the prestigious Responding to Globalization Award for their unique programs that connect residents with their countries of origin and encourage businesses competing in a global marketplace.

These are just a few examples of the many outstanding government programs that benefit the community and lay out the “red carpet” for business. OCBC is proud to celebrate the innovative ideas government may actually be helping keep Orange County’s unemployment rate one of the lowest and move business toward economic recovery.

The full list of Red Carpet award winners included:

Award for Business Retention and Expansion: city of Huntington Beach: Ten Point Plan for Local Business

Honorable Mentions:

Orange County Health Care Agency: E-Submit Business Portal: Connecting Orange County

Anaheim Union High School District: Developer Impact Fees Deferral Program

City of Newport Beach: Community Development Reorganization

Award for Real Estate Redevelopment and Reuse: City of Anaheim: ARTIC

Award for Responding to Globalization: City of Irvine

Award for Sustainable and Green Development: (2 winners)

John Wayne Airport: Central Utility Plant

City of Anaheim: Water Recycling Demonstration Plant

Award for Public-Private Partnership: OC Public Works: Ortega Highway Widening Project

Award for Public Sector Leadership: Supervisor Bill Campbell, County of Orange


Lucy Dunn is President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council and a member of the Voice of OC Community Editorial Board.

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