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Marketing partnership to continue

Posted: November 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Vehicles are seen on the Auto Row on Creekside Road in Valencia on Nov. 17. Vehicles are seen on the Auto Row on Creekside Road in Valencia on Nov. 17.
Vehicles are seen on the Auto Row on Creekside Road in Valencia on Nov. 17.

The city of Santa Clarita is extending its Shop Local partnership with the Santa Clarita Valley Auto Dealers Association for another year.

The $60,000 one-year extension comes at a time when local dealers need the support the most, as many dealerships had fewer new cars on their lots this year, as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.

Don Fleming, president of the association and co-owner of Valencia Acura, said the dealerships began beefing up certified used car programs to make up for the lack of new inventory, but “that’s not enough to offset that completely.”

Honda, Acura, Lexus and Toyota – which were hit the hardest – are starting to get new inventory now and Fleming expects inventory levels to be back to normal by the end of the year.

Even so, at the Nov. 8 City Council meeting, Fleming said that the Valencia Auto Center is projecting between $850 million and $900 million in sales this year. The annual goal is $1 billion. The Shop Local partnership began in 2004 as an effort to market to Santa Clarita residents the benefits of buying cars locally. In the last year, the funding went toward TV, Web and print advertising, a car show and the renovations this spring to Creekside Road where the dealerships are located.

Local auto dealers saw their sales drop when the recession began. In the 2010-11 fiscal year, new motor vehicles sales brought the city a total of $4.07 million in sales tax revenue.

That revenue is 45 percent less than what the city had received from car sales in fiscal year 2004-05. This decrease also results in less revenue from other sources, such as vehicle registration fees.

“That’s a big hit for us,” said Jason Crawford, the city of Santa Clarita’s marketing and economic development manager. 

Revenue was starting to pick up before Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

“We seemed to hit bottom and are slowly going back up,” Crawford said.

Fleming and Crawford both said part of future marketing efforts will go toward just letting people know there is an auto center with 23 dealerships in Valencia, a fact some residents in Canyon Country or Stevenson Ranch aren’t aware of, Crawford said.

“We need to educate some folks that there is even an opportunity to ‘shop local’ for cars,” Crawford said.


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