2017 Business Summit & State Of The City Address
"Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 - 7:12 p.m. - Chico >> Speakers at the 2017 Business Summit hosted by the Chico Chamber of Commerce saw good reasons to be optimistic about where Chico is going, although there still are plenty of challenges. Between reports from the Chico Chamber, Downtown Chico Business Association and the private comment that public safety remains the top priority of the chamber and business community. Other areas in need of attention include the condition of roads, infrastructure improvements, police and city staffing, and keeping Chico in a condition to help business thrive. 2017 President Rick Anderson noted the chamber hopes progress continues to be made in helping support businesses, keeping the city government healthy, public safety, Chico's cultural and recreation assets, and keeping the community vibrant. Cooperation between the city, police, the business community, Chico State University and others has been key in the Chico recovery. DCBA Executive Director Melanie Bassett had a positive perspective on downtown, talking about new restaurants and businesses opening up, visitors feeling safe in being downtown, and the continuation of Clean, Beautiful and Safe campaign that works on cleaning up downtown and making streets safe. Bassett said her board has been discussing a property-based improvement district, which would be different than the DCBA's existing assessment district. It would help with additional funding for downtown safety programs. In the 2016 annual report, the DCBA also noted that it planned to increase the marketing of downtown, as well as update and enforce the business license tax assessment. The homeless are still a problem for downtown, but the DCBA believes headway is being made in getting people off the street and into better lives. Golden Valley Bank CEO and President Mark Francis provided his bank's "economic snapshot" based on third-quarter city and county figures, as well as a business confidence survey from volunteer respondents. "Some quarters performed well, some only so-so," Francis said about the numbers. Francis is a past chamber chair. Both reports showed improving conditions, but issues with the economy still exist. Based on city and county third quarter results, he noted there was improvement in sales tax, home sale prices, and jobs held, but downturns in building permits and bed tax revenue. Reacting to local business conditions, the majority of business confidence survey respondents the survey was not included. The report noted that "optimism of local business leaders increased significantly in December" up from June. "And it might be the recent election that's making people feel pretty good about 2017. 74 percent of our respondents think Trump's victory will help the economy," the business confidence survey noted. "Looks like a strong future for our local economy." The majority of respondents also thought their top-line sales and profits would increase. They were not ready to add to their staffs however. Other items mentioned during the summit, which included comments from Mayor Sean Morgan, were watching the countywide Tourism Business Improvement District, in which hotels are taxing themselves to fund promotion of Butte County outside the area."