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SCV gets high marks from local businesses

But nearly one-half cite Internet issues as a concern

Posted: July 15, 2014 5:25 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2014 5:25 p.m.

While surveys of 75 companies in the Santa Clarita Valley revealed that most are in a growth mode, nearly half of those businesses also cited the need for improved Internet speeds to set the stage for future growth.

The Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation partnered with the SCV Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Industry Association to survey local businesses by phone and via in-person visits during the month of May.

The companies surveyed ranged from sole proprietors to national corporations with 800 or more employees.

Those same companies represented 7,900 employees, and all were located in one of the Santa Clarita Valley business parks.

The Economic Development Corporation reported 66 percent of companies surveyed indicated their sales were increasing, and 29 percent indicated that sales were stable. Only 6 percent said sales were decreasing.

“The surveys showed that businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley see positive economic growth in their future,” said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corporation.

As the surveys were conducted, businesses were also queried on a wider range of topics.

One of the issues that surfaced in the surveys is adequacy of Internet speeds. (One of the three business parks, the Valencia Industrial Center, was built prior to the Internet explosion.)

Nearly one-half, or 45 percent, of the businesses queried said Internet speed and availability were inadequate for future growth, and that costs were a factor as well.

Asked to rank the Internet adequacy on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest quality, the average rating was 3.9.

Adequate access to the Internet is “absolutely vital to the way business is going," Schroeder said. “We’re only going to need more capacity.”

“We’re going to need more data and bandwidth.”

Schroeder had raised the business community’s concern about Internet adequacy at a Santa Clarita City Council meeting last week. In addition, the Economic Development Corporation and VIA have begun reaching out to providers to see if solutions can be created, she said.

The city has also indicated it wants to work with the nonprofit business organizations to understand what actions need to be taken and seek solutions, Schroeder said.

“Some landlords are starting to see this issue as an opportunity, as well. They’ve brought (upgrades) to their building and are building the cost into the rent structure,” she said.

Local firms were also surveyed on a number of community attributes, including local services. The responses showed that businesses view the Santa Clarita Valley positively overall.

Police, fire and education services were highly rated by the businesses, which ranked them 6.0 to 6.4 on the same 7-point scale.

Likewise, companies rated public transportation, local streets and roads as very good, with average rankings of 5.4 and 5.3 percent, respectively, on the same 7-point scale.

Zoning changes and permits, as well as dealing with code and regulatory enforcement, received 4.5 and 4.6 ratings, respectively.

Surveyors also worked to identify firms whose growth might benefit from assistance or incentive programs, such as the Foreign Trade Zone and various tax credits.

“We want to help companies make use of every incentive and program they can so they can be competitive in the global marketplace,” said Schroeder.

In addition to surveying businesses about local services and the level of business assistance needed, the survey collected basic data about each company, such as the number of employees and size of facilities.

The information allows the Economic Development Corporation to begin quantifying local business activity. The EDC plans to repeat the business visit blitz at least once a year.



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