Costa Mesa’s local economy relies heavily on retail and services. The single largest center of commercial activity is South Coast Plaza, a shopping center noted for its architecture and size. The volume of sales generated by South Coast Plaza, on the strength of 322 stores, places it among the highest volume regional shopping centers in the nation. It generates more than one billion dollars per year. Some manufacturing activity also takes place in the city, mostly in the industrial, southwestern quarter, which is home to a number of electronics, pharmaceuticals and plastics firms.
The commercial district surrounding South Coast Plaza, which contains parts of northern Costa Mesa and southern Santa Ana, is sometimes called South Coast Metro.
The Orange County Performing Arts Center and South Coast Repertory Theater are based in the city. A local newspaper, the Daily Pilot, is owned, operated, and printed by the Los Angeles Times. Ceradyne, El Pollo Loco, Emulex, Hurley, RVCA, L-R-G, and Volcom are among the businesses headquartered in Costa Mesa.