Chicos economy recovering but still needs care_By Katie Simmons
Chico’s economy has measurably improved over the last several years. If you look at key economic indicators like sales tax, building permits, housing, TOT, and employment, you’ll see sharp rises from the deep troughs we experienced during the recession. These improvements even exceed 2007 numbers in recent quarters, indicating positive economic growth. This is good news for Chico, leading 95% of business leaders surveyed to project the same or better local business conditions over the next year, as reported in the Chico Economic Snapshot produced by Golden Valley Bank.
The City’s financial ship has been righted, too, with the hard work of our City Council. The debt that haunted us years ago has now turned into a small General Fund Reserve. Kudos to the Council and City management team who have worked diligently to stabilize Chico’s financial footing, changing policies to keep the City living within its means. We’re on the path to slow and steady improvement over time, certainly a healthy endeavor.
The question is: are we meeting community standards and expectations in priority areas or are we falling short due to limited resources? And – what do the years ahead hold?
In 2017, the Chico Chamber met with major local employers representing more than 17,000 jobs in Chico. Since many businesses tell us that the #1 reason they operate here is the quality of our community, our question was simple: how is the quality of life in Chico impacting your business, for better or for worse? Responses ran the gamut but settled upon a few basic themes: businesses are still very concerned about the crime rate in Chico and are growing more dissatisfied with local road conditions.
Under the Chico Chamber’s “Moving Chico Forward” initiative begun in 2015, a Task Force was put together last year to better understand current and projected financial constraints at the City. Though the City budget is in stable condition, it will be significantly compressed in the coming years due to unfunded pension liabilities mandated by the state. The Chamber published a Special Report on what is needed to put the City back in the driver’s seat on public safety and infrastructure. The bottom line is: the community may wish to consider a revenue measure at some point, a conversation the Chico Chamber kicked off this year and will be exploring further in 2018. More at chicochamber.com.
Something we can do today – at this very moment – to boost our local economy is shop within Chico’s city limits. Studies show that shopping at a locally-owned business returns 68 cents on every dollar to the community through public services. Shopping at a business operating here but owned elsewhere returns approximately 45 cents on every dollar. It pays to shop locally!
Businesses of all sizes in Chico keep our community employed, too. We support local jobs when we shop in Chico. Many businesses are making shopping even more convenient by offering online purchases and delivery services. If you are like me, you enjoy browsing, exploring what’s new, and finding unexpected treasures. Just think: every purchase we make here, big or small, comes back to us in a positive way. Now there’s a sales pitch for treating yourself to something special this year!
Speaking of treats, Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy is celebrating its 80th anniversary in business this year. What a milestone! If you have tried their Chico Mint ice cream you know what’s sustained them over time. We’re helping celebrate this year with a big community “birthday party” for Shubert’s on May 31, 2018 at Patrick Ranch. Enjoy the spring sunshine and toast this incredible business with a scoop of their best ice cream. The Kelly Twins will add to the fun and merriment. Tickets go on sale at chicochamber.com in April. You won’t want to miss this yummy Chico celebration.
As a final thought, if you are in business and have not considered membership in the Chamber, 2018 is the year. Though we have a 110-year history in Chico, we are a new and fresh organization, refocused on our mission to leverage the voice of business for community good. Our goal is to make Chico the safest, most vibrant, premier city in the north state. And we mean business. Drop me a line personally if you’re ready to move Chico forward with us: firstname.lastname@example.org.