The benefits of being small

There's nothing like the annual Fortune 500 to put Los Angeles in its place - but in a good way. Of the top 100 companies, just three are based in the L.A. area: Disney (64), Northrop (73) and Countrywide Financial (91). Add six more to the top 200: Occidental Petroleum (124), DirecTV (160), Computer Sciences (163), Amgen (171), Health Net (189) and Edison International (192). Add two more to the top 300: KB Home (228) and Hilton (296). All told, 11 of the nation's 300 largest companies are based in the Los Angeles area. NY has 33 (including eight of the top 25). Even among the Fortune 1000, there are just 24 companies headquartered here (not including OC).

These numbers really aren't that surprising - L.A. has never been a big corporate center, going back 20 years when First Interstate, Arco and McDonnell Douglas were still operating. And having a big corporate presence doesn't necessarily make for a robust economy - or need we be reminded that General Motors and Ford are in Fortune's top 10? So instead of just having a few hundred really big businesses ruling the roost, L.A. is made up of tens of thousands of small- to medium-sized establishments. Consider that of L.A. County's 235,000 businesses, 222,000 have less than 50 employees. Just 208 have over 1,000 employees. That's an economy of small, unheralded businesses. And judging by the 4.6 percent unemployment rate, it still seems to be working.

Fortune 500 (top 10)
1 Wal-Mart
2 Exxon Mobil
3 General Motors
4 Chevron
5 ConocoPhillips
6 General Electric
7 Ford Motor
8 Citigroup
9 Bank of America Corp.
10 American Intl. Group

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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