The Great Evolution of the Pacific Rim Economy

Like European immigrants, Asian immigrants do not represent one country or one language.  And unlike European immigrants that mostly came to the shores of America on boats with meager belongings and possessions, many new Asian arrivals are arriving via jetliners to LAX, well-educated and well-financed.

Both European and Asian immigration is founded on the core foundation of the American dream and freedom, the political and economic forces behind the recent Asian immigration is vastly different from the late 1800s and early 1900s European immigration.

Much of what we are experiencing is deeply rooted in the global economy that was ushered in with President Nixon’s opening of trade with China, along with the end of the Vietnam War. This epic 40-year journey and transformation has been fueled by foreign policies that were outside the influence and control of Californians. What was once the enemy of America politically (Communism), was later looked upon as an “economic partner” to develop an inter-connected global economy that would reduce and/or eliminate military conflict.

The economic results of this 40-year policy have been nothing less than monumental. The social results have been nothing less than monumental. The political shift on the Asian continent in the 1970s created an exodus of the well-educated and affluent class from Taiwan to Monterey Park, the center of the San Gabriel Valley, and now the largest concentration of Asian Americans in the United States.

These well-educated and affluent families and businesses came to the San Gabriel Valley based on existing relatives, friends and familiarity. Since the 1970s, immigrants and investors from various Asian countries continue to come to the United States with San Gabriel Valley as the hub of entry and settlement.

Foreign immigration was also made easy by the US Immigration EB-5 program that provides citizenship with financial investments in business enterprises, as well as Chinese and Korean companies wanting to expand and tap into America’s real estate, consumer and luxury markets.

Several waves of Asian immigration, investments and tourism have hit the shores of Southern California over the last 125 years but none of these previous waves have been as long-lasting with such profound changes to our landscape as the current wave of Asian immigration and investments.

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The late 1800s Chinese immigration helped build California’s railways with “Chinatowns” being established in both San Francisco and LA. Prior to World War II, Japanese immigrants established themselves in the San Gabriel Valley and later in the South Bay.  Vietnamese refugees were camped in North San Diego and many settled into Orange County.

In the last decade, the Asian American population of LA County grew 20 percent. We are now the capital of Asian America. We are now home to the largest Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese and Thai populations outside their respective home countries.

From the huddled masses of Europeans arriving via Ellis Island by boat to Spanish-speaking immigrants coming from Latin America, Asians are flying by airplane across the Pacific Ocean arriving at America’s new Ellis Island – LAX.

THE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

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If you draw a circle on a map, the NEW GLOBAL REGION is centered in Los Angeles and extends south to San Diego and east to Las Vegas, with more than 25 million residents and 80 million annual visitors. Our economic growth in the region is being fueled by global investments and new entrepreneurs in many sectors. We are now a true GLOBAL REGION of ultra-wealth, just like Hong Kong, Dubai, London and NYC.

The significance of this global economy expansion is that government boundaries of cities and states are blurred and the entire Region is the destination for investments and lifestyles.

These affluent residents have arrived in Los Angeles with million and billion-dollar investment funds to establish deep roots in the United States. Many individuals from these countries are protecting and investing their wealth in our region because we are the most desirable location in the world. This new global investment has created a “supply and demand” equation that is now based on international economics and not merely California or American economies of wealth.

There are over 10 million residents who live in LA County with a total personal income of $500 billion.  Over 320,000 companies call Los Angeles home, and LA is the nation’s #1 manufacturing center with over 360,000 workers in this industry.  In fact, Los Angeles County was the country’s largest county GDP in 2015, reaching a staggering $663 billion.

Los Angeles County is one of the largest and most important economies in the world. There are over 4,300 foreign-owned establishments that have successfully invested billions of dollars in the Los Angeles region. The FDI Report also found that the 9,105 FOEs in Southern California directly employed 366,415 employees, and supported an estimated wage bill of $23.6 billion. 48% of Southern California’s FOEs are located in Los Angeles County.

Furthermore, Los Angeles is the nation’s top trading hub and the premier trade gateway to and from the United States. In 2015, Los Angeles was ranked as the #1 customs district in the U.S. with over $393 billion in two-way trade.  Los Angeles is home to North America’s #1 and #2 container ports: The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and is responsible for over 40% of the ocean-cargo coming into the United States.  LA is also home to the world’s #1 origin and destination airport with LAX connecting 74.5 million travelers to and from 135 cities in 39 countries around the globe.

EDUCATION IS A PRIORITY

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Los Angeles has an abundance of communities and enclaves that cater to every global billionaire. These options range from the glamorous, world famous Beverly Hills and West LA, to the secluded sprawling San Gabriel Valley, all the way down through the majestic Pacific Ocean coastal region.

But San Gabriel Valley remains the priority and ultimate status of Asian immigrants.

In addition to the economic, social and cultural pull, exceptional public schools along with historic estates are the driving force to this region. Understanding the Asian culture’s primary focus of excellent education for their children, association with other Asian families, and the economic opportunities in real estate, trade and other Pacific Rim ventures.

The San Gabriel Valley of approximately 2 million residents is comprised of 32 independent cities and school districts, unlike the San Fernando Valley and West LA that are controlled by the City of LA and its school district.

These once predominantly European-American, well-educated and affluent communities in San Gabriel Valley such as San Marino, La Cañada Flintridge, Bradbury Estates, Arcadia, South Pasadena and other surrounding Foothill communities are now Asian-American with many residents born in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and China.

The more than 30 top colleges and universities in and surrounding SGV also exert a constant gravitational pull on those who prioritize education and academia.

But what this major transformation means to many native Angelenos however, is significant when it comes to real estate prices. Competing for homes and estates in the most prestigious neighborhoods is no longer fellow Angelenos, but global buyers.

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