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Laurie Ender: Supporting small businesses in the SCV

Live From City Hall

Posted: March 26, 2010 10:21 p.m.
Updated: March 27, 2010 7:30 a.m.
 
Small businesses are the heart and soul of this country and that is certainly the case in the city of Santa Clarita. Small businesses provide jobs, community support and much-needed goods and services to our residents and our business community. Their survival through what economists are calling the 21st century's Great Recession is vital.

Everywhere I go these days I am asked: "What is the city of Santa Clarita doing to help small business" and "What are we doing to ensure jobs are staying here in our community?"

While the list of programs and efforts benefitting small businesses is extensive, I wanted to share with you a few of the most successful efforts happening right now.

Enterprise zone
The city aggressively went after a state Enterprise Zone designation, which became effective in 2007. The program can virtually eliminate a business' state income tax and has realized Santa Clarita companies a potential $40 million in tax savings to date and 1,100 jobs. More than three-quarters of the companies that have benefited from the program are small businesses.

Worksource center
The Santa Clarita WorkSource Center is a great resource for small business, providing free services to local companies and job seekers and recently opened its new offices at College of the Canyon's University Center. To give you an idea of how valuable this program is, during 2008-09, the Center had more than 17,000 visitors!

Local preference
Last year, the City Council passed a resolution which makes it easier for Santa Clarita businesses to do business with the city. For bids that the city has for goods and services, city-based businesses now receive a 10 percent local preference. That means that if your bid for city goods or services is within 10 percent or less of the lowest bid and that bid is not from a city based business, the local vendor has an opportunity to match the lowest bid.

Sheriff's business alliance
We know preventing crime can save local companies millions annually. To help businesses address crime-related issues, the city funds an innovative program that pays for a sheriff's sergeant to liaise with businesses, helping them with a variety of issues related to crime prevention and enforcement.

Small-Business Development Center
The city partners with the College of the Canyons to provide the Small Business Development Center. Businesses can take advantage of free one-on-one counseling meetings with professional business advisers on all business.

SCV film office
In 2009, location spending alone resulted in an economic impact of more than $22 million to the local economy and small businesses. That is money that is spent locally by the film industry in our Santa Clarita-based businesses.

More than 7,000 Santa Clarita Valley residents work in the entertainment industry and hundreds of local businesses cater to, support, and rely on production jobs. The city handles all film permits in the city, which offers free listings for local locations and resources, and works to support film-friendly legislation, while continually balancing the needs of the entertainment industry with those of the residents and business communities.

Business attraction
The city recognizes one of the best ways to ensure success of the local economy is to grow and expand job opportunities. As a result of the business-friendly climate in Santa Clarita, Ronan Engineering, Quest Diagnostics, and Valencia Mold relocated to Santa Clarita, adding more than 200 jobs locally in 2009. Also of note, Advanced Bionics moved operations and a couple of hundred jobs from the San Fernando Valley to Santa Clarita in the last year.

Redevelopment grants
The City Council recently awarded 20 $5,000 grants to businesses in the Newhall Redevelopment Area to encourage growth and sustainability.

Building improvement grants
The city recently developed a program to help business and property owners in Old Town Newhall enhance signage and exteriors as part of the Building Improvement Grant program. With little to no cost to the individual business, grant recipients may receive up to $20,000 to be used toward enhancements to signage and store fronts.

On behalf of the City Council, I want to commend all of our local business owners for their perseverance and strength through these tough economic times. Like you, the city has made some tough budget and business decisions, but we continue to work hard to support our local companies and maintain the high quality of life enjoyed by our businesses and residents.

Laurie Ender is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at lender@santaclarita.com.

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