Downtown Whittier (Photo Credit: Paul Zykosfsky/California Active Communities)
Rolling out the red carpet and letting the nation, the world even, know that California is open for business is what many, not just in the business community, say should be our number one priority. They believe that focusing our efforts on making the state more business friendly would boost our local and state economies.
Just how friendly is the Golden State’s business environment? Let’s just say California did not make it in the top 10. In fact, we didn’t even make the top 25. If you’re looking for some good news? Here’s a little nugget: California isn’t the WORST business tax climate.
According to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, the Golden State ranked 48th. Yes, the state is near the bottom, but we’re not dead last.
Not satisfied with that number, regions, up and down the state, are working on changing the status quo.
Recently, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation named two cities as the county’s most “Business-Friendly” cities: Whittier and Duarte.
“Both cities stand out as model communities by proactively engaging and working with businesses and the private sector to create jobs for their residents,” said Bill Allen, LAEDC president and CEO.
Whittier was selected for several reasons, mainly because of their Local Economic Stimulus and Business Assistance Plan developed in 2009.
The plan is four-pronged:
- Planning and building permit fees subsidies – reduced permit fees by 50 percent from 2009-2011. Thirty seven businesses benefited from it.
- Temporary banner permit fee reductions – temporary banner fees were slashed down from $152 to $25 in 2009. Since then, the number of permits have increased by 60 percent.
- Buy Whittier Policy – the preferential treatment margin was increased from one percent to two percent for city businesses placing bids on city projects.
- Business owners seminar series – with the local chamber of commerce and the library, a yearly free seminar is offered.
“We are doing a lot in the city of Whittier and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved,” said Mayor Owen Newcomer. “We’ve got a dedicated staff that works with the business community. They actually go out and visit existing businesses. We understand the unique circumstances with each one of them.”
It should be noted, Whittier was a finalist for this prestigious award in 2009, 2010, and 2011. “It feels so good to be recognized,” added the mayor.
In the smaller city of Duarte, the LAEDC applauded its business friendly approach like amending its filming ordinance. It also adopted a 12-month suspension of code enforcement on selected temporary sign regulations. City staff does regular visits with area businesses and makes the permitting process easier by streamlining the development process.
“This award is extra special because of the difficulty every city has been going through with the loss of redevelopment,” said Darrell George, Durate’s city manager. “We are more cognizant of the difficulties businesses are going through and we make sure they know we are here to help.”
“We are constantly arm-wrestling with Sacramento to try and make California more business friendly.”
State elected leaders need to let cities “do what we do best locally, and we’ll do what we need to do to help pump the state’s economy back to life,” said George.
The California Economic Summit has been working hard to promote common sense streamlining of regulations to help businesses big and small thrive.