The California Venture Forum, where fledgling firms strut their stuff before an audience of investors, has for the first time designated Orange County as the site of its conference.
Chapman University in Orange will host the forum May 3 and may sponsor future events.
"I think it's a great opportunity for our students to see exactly what it takes for a company to get funding, which will help them focus their ideas for starting business," said Lynne Pierson Doti, director of the Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics at Chapman.
In the past decade, the forum's semiannual conferences have taken place at Cal Poly Pomona and Claremont McKenna College.
Chapman's selection to host the upcoming conference shows that the county is coming of age, said Jay Winokur, forum event coordinator and a financial consultant.
"Orange County is no longer just a bedroom community for L.A.," he said. "It's becoming an independent economic power."
Orange County companies of late have become more prominent at forum events. At the November conference, five of the 13 companies tapped to give presentations hailed from the county. Companies are selected on the strength of their concepts, the quality of their business plans and the likelihood of receiving funding.