Iconic OC Entrepreneur Leaves Behind Legacy of Retail, Arts, Culture and Entertainment
IRVINE, Calif. (March 3, 2015)---The Orange County Visitors Association celebrates and recognizes tourism, retail and philanthropic icon, Henry Segerstrom, who died on February 20 at age 91.
"Henry Segerstrom is one of the original pioneers in putting Orange County on the map as an international tourism destination," says Ed Fuller, President of the Orange County Visitors Association. "He was a visionary, anticipating demand for world-class shopping, arts and accommodations long before many others. Likewise, his leadership, drive and commitment to building relationships in international markets helped pave the way for our current outreach efforts in markets like China and Japan. Henry was in a class of his own and will be sorely missed."
Segerstrom's contributions to Orange County's tourism industry are many, beginning in 1967 with the transformation of his family's agricultural fields into the now world-renowned shopping destination he dubbed South Coast Plaza. Opened with 78 stores, South Coast Plaza now boasts 280 stores, generates $1.7 billion in annual sales and attracts more than 22 million annual visitors.
In addition to bringing high-end retail to Orange County, many credit Segerstrom as the father of the county's arts and cultural scene, which likewise attracts visitors from around the globe. He donated five acres of land and at least $6 million to build the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, which opened in the mid 1980s across the street from South Coast Plaza. Later, he spearheaded the center's expansion and development of the 2,000-seat Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall across the street from the original building.
Editors Note: The Orange County Visitors Association (OCVA) represents more than 700 members of Orange County, California's tourism community and is the leading resource for visitor information about the county's 34 cities. OCVA serves as steward of The OC brand, recognized worldwide as the home of world-famous theme parks, unparalleled shopping, 42 miles of pristine coastline, renowned beachfront resorts, and innumerable activities ranging from watersports to world-class performing arts. OCVA promotes the destination both domestically and internationally, with tourism offices in four international cities. Orange County is located in the heart of Southern California and provides easy access to all the attractions the region offers. For more information, go to www.VisitTheOC.com or call the California Welcome Center at (714) 523-3441. Follow OCVA on Facebook (VisitTheOC) and Twitter (@VisitTheOC).