California not business friendly but Duarte is

California not business friendly but Duarte is

It may not surprise many Arcadia Chamber members that Forbes recently ranked the state of California a very low 41st out of all 50 states on the Forbes’ 2012 ranking of The Best States for Business and Careers. More details about that later.

Scott Hettrick

Scott Hettrick

Despite the challenges created by the state, local communities can overcome offset the challenges — Duarte was recently named most business-friendly city in Los Angeles County with a population of under 60,000 by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC). Whittier was recognized for cities over 60,000. The awards recognize cities within the County that are proactively promoting business-friendly programs and services in the interest of attracting and retaining good quality jobs for their residents.

The LAEDC will begin the process of selecting the most business-friendly city this year by sending a letter to the mayors and city managers of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County in May/June. There is no fee for applying for this award. It would be nice to see Arcadia earn that distinction. Let us know in the poll on the bottom right side of this page if your experiences with the City of Arcadia and the state of California would cause you to classify each as business friendly or business unfriendly. And please leave any additional comments below this article.

The LAEDC rankings are based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated commitment to economic development as a priority
  • Excellence in programs and services designed to facilitate business entry, expansion, and retention
  • Economic development activity over the past three years
  • Competitive business tax rates and fee structures
  • Availability of economic incentives
  • Effective communication with and about business clients

In the past year the City of Duarte, which was a MBFC finalist in 2010 and 2011,  has:

  • Amended its Filming Ordinance by becoming one of the first cities to adopt the California Film Commission’s Model Ordinance and Guidelines for Best Practices in Film Regulations and Policies
  • In response to the voices of local struggling businesses, the City adopted a 12-month suspension of Code Enforcement on selected temporary sign regulations
  • The Duarte City Council entered into a contract with “Nextdoor” to establish a private social networking site for local neighborhoods to foster neighbor and citywide social communication. The network will also provide communication between residents and the local business community.
  • The City of Duarte has a pro-business attitude mindset that is shared by its entire staff and is driven by the overarching desire to encourage economic development, bolster the city’s economy, and create a better Duarte for residents and employees alike.
  • The City Manager, Community Development Director and other key Staff outreach to the business community through regular business visits. Duarte supports quarterly business seminars on topics such as business management and website development, hosts job fairs that focus on local businesses and workforce development, networking breakfasts, and provides adequate staffing for its one-stop permit center in order to streamline the development process. It also funds the Duarte View Newspaper, which provides local businesses with affordable advertising opportunities. These city-funded services provide Duarte businesses with critical assistance and exposure as an added benefit offered at little to no cost.
  • Duarte has set the standard that every employee be dedicated to the economic development goals of the City, with the Planning Department staff acts as economic development liaison for businesses desiring assistance. This assigned team is dedicated to implementing the recently adopted City of Duarte Economic Development Strategy. Recent customer satisfaction indicate that they were “extremely satisfied” with the service received and with the “knowledgeable staff.”
  • Adopted in July 2011 by the City Council, the City’s plan incorporates input from the Duarte Economic Development Commission. Through the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, the City has shown their support for the LA County Economic Development Strategic Plan.
As for California, Forbes ranked the state in the following categories:
  • #43 in Business Costs
  • #41 Best States for Business
  • #40 in Regulatory Environment
  • #37 in Economic Climate
  • #30 in Labor Supply
  • #25 in Quality of Life
  • #1 in Growth Prospects

Forbes notes that California’s $2 trillion economy would be the ninth biggest in the world if it were a country. The state represents 13% of the U.S. economy. Yet, some companies have given up on the Golden State. Comcast shut down its Northern California call centers this year and eliminated 1,000 jobs, citing “the high cost of doing business in California.” Campbell Soup is shutting down its Sacramento factory—eliminating 700 jobs—and moving production to Texas, Ohio and North Carolina. Forbes’ top-ranked state Utah, has nabbed recent expansions by California companies, including Adobe Systems, Ebay and Electronic Arts.
The magazine describes California as ” littered with problems.” It ranks last in Pollina Corporate Real Estate’s study of the states with the best financial incentive programs and state economic development efforts. Its A1 bond rating from Moody’s on general obligation debt is the second lowest of any state—only Illinois is worse. The regulatory environment is fourth worst per the Mercatus report. The recent unemployment rate of 10.1% is the third highest in the nation. In addition to a heavy tax burden, energy costs are 33% above the national average.
Although the state has been under duress from the dramatic fall in home prices and the reduced tax revenues for the state, Forbes suggests the outlook is “relatively bright.” The economy is projected to expand 3.6% annually over the next five years—ninth best among states. Forecasted job growth of 2% ranks in the top third. While many companies and individuals flee California, others are drawn in by the concentration of highly educated workers and by the fact that California is home to 10% of the 1,000 largest U.S. public and private companies. Another plus is the $36 billion in venture capital money invested in California companies the past three years, which is four times the total of any other state. And of course, there is always the weather.

Other California stats listed by Forbes:

  • Population: 37,888,400
  • Gross State Product: $1,959 B
  • Governor: Jerry Brown
  • Median Household Income: $58,872
  • Mean Temperature: 62
  • Cost of Doing Business: 6.3% above nat’l avg
  • College Attainment: 29.9%
  • Net Migration (2012): 158,800
  • Moody’s Bond Rating: A1
  • Projected Annual Job Growth: 1.5%
  • Unemployment: 10.1%
  • Median Household Income: $58,872
  • Household Income Growth: 0.8%
  • Right to Work State: No
  • Union Workforce: 18.2%
  • Median Home Price: $309,900
  • Foreclosures: 3.2%
  • High School Attainment: 80.6%
  • College Attainment: 29.9%
  • Graduate Degrees: 10.7%
  • Poverty Rate: 16.6%
  • Crimes per 100,000 Residents: 2,995
  • Net Migration (2012): 158,800

— By Scott Hettrick

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