The majority of business owners in Davis have a positive outlook on the state of the local economy, according to the results of the Business Walk that the city conducted this summer.
In June, the city sent out volunteers to take the temperature of as many businesses in Davis as they could in a few short hours.
When asked how business was going, out of the 160 businesses that were interviewed, 59 percent said business was either good or great, up from 43 percent in 2011.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, three businesses out of 160 said they were considering moving because of poor production.
Twenty-eight percent reported that business was steady or fair and 13 percent relayed “negative business trends,” down from 22 percent the year before.
“Many (attributed) their good fortune to being surrounded by a strong community, having a consistent flow of foot traffic, good resources provided by the university and a central location,” reported the Sacramento Metro Chamber Metro Pulse program, which helped coordinate the event with the city of Davis, the Davis Chamber of Commerce and Davis Downtown.
All of the businesses that participated in the event were asked two additional questions to gauge how business was going in the city as well.
When asked “What do you like about doing business in Davis?,” 63 percent of respondents said the community and their regular customers were the most enjoyable part.
“(Residents described) people as ‘educated, trustworthy and friendly,’ ” the report said. “Many enjoy working and living in a small town where their clients are loyal and they are able to get to know them personally.”
A total of 29 percent of businesses listed their location as the best part of operating in Davis; 20 percent cited the proximity to UC Davis.
The third question asked “What should be done to improve business?”
Unsurprisingly, the most popular answer was to address parking downtown; 27 percent of respondents cited that as the No. 1 issue. However, that percentage was down from 31 from the previous year.
Fifteen percent said “nothing” needs to be done, 5 percent said the economy needs to be fixed and 14 percent cited “expenses/rent” as the biggest problem.
“Businesses want to raise prices because the cost to do business is going up, but cannot because customers are already tight for cash,” the report said. “Some other concerns were in regards to businesses (that) described themselves as the ‘stepchild’ to downtown, and many would like the support the downtown area gets.”
In response to the concerns voiced by the various business owners, the city pointed to recent activities it has taken up in partnership with the Chamber and Davis Downtown to nurture better business.
First, it listed the fact that the City Council is actively pursing a parking and “wayfinding” program to “better manage and improve access to parking available in the downtown.”
The report also mentioned the influx of jobs in the community with the opening of Mori Seiki, a large Japanese high-tech manufacturing company that celebrated its ribbon-cutting Wednesday on Second Street, and Expression Systems, another tech company from Woodland, which also moved to Second Street in September.
The two new companies should bring almost 200 new jobs to Davis combined.
“The city is also collaborating with UC Davis and Yolo County on creation of a downtown/university mixed-use gateway innovation district to assist the university in bringing benefits of new discoveries to market,” the report said.
The staff report with the full results can be found online on the city’s website under the City Council meeting page from the Oct. 9 meeting.
— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash