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Ask the Expert

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Marsha McLean: Live from City Hall

Posted: March 30, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 30, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

A strong retail environment is one of the foundations of a healthy economy and a strong community.

In Santa Clarita, the City Council is focused on not only attracting brands and retailers of all sizes, but also in supporting existing retail businesses because their continued success is an investment in our community.

The city’s share of sales tax is one cent for every dollar spent, and those pennies add up to big benefits for our community in the form of services, facilities and programs.

Although the nation has been in an economic downturn since 2007, Santa Clarita has seen its local retail economy pick up in the last year. According to the latest retail sales tax report, Santa Clarita is performing better as the local economy continues to pull out of the recession, although it should be noted that we are still below our peak for sales tax in 2007.

The latest numbers for the city’s third quarter 2013 (July-September) show an overall increase of more than 3.5 percent in sales tax compared to the same period in 2011.

One of the prominent reasons Santa Clarita’s retail and restaurant sales numbers are up is largely due to an increase in auto sales, which contributed to almost half of the overall gains in gross receipts compared to last year.

Revenues from new stores and businesses, discount department stores as well as lumber and building materials were also strong economic contributors during the third quarter.

Santa Clarita’s affinity for shopping and dining is a trend regional retailers are watching. In fact, Santa Clarita will soon be home to several new businesses.

Two new dealerships, Audi and Mini Cooper, will cruise into the Valencia Auto Center, which is the city’s largest sales-tax generator.

The city will also welcome more than four new restaurants opening this year, including: El Caballeros in the Patios at the Westfield Valencia Town Center; Newhall Refinery on Main Street in Newhall; and two Toppers Pizza restaurants, located at the corners of Magic Mountain and Valencia Boulevard and Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road.

New retail offerings, restaurants and increased sales tax numbers are great news for the community because they mean more of our residents are staying and "buying local," which in turn adds to and keeps more jobs in our community.

Santa Clarita is also a great place for start-up businesses, thanks to a variety of city programs that help business owners retain more of their profits.

For example, the city does not assess a payroll tax, gross receipts tax, utility users’ tax, or require business licenses or fees.

There are also many programs that make doing business in Santa Clarita more advantageous, including the Enterprise Zone tax savings program, Small Business Development Center at College of the Canyons, and the WorkSource Center, which acts as a free employment recruitment center.

Additionally, the city has a 10 percent local preference program for city purchases, which provides an opportunity for Santa Clarita businesses to match a low bid if it’s within 10 percent of the lowest non-local business quote.

In the last two decades, Santa Clarita has been transformed by new shopping centers and spaces, enriching the quality of life for residents.

Gone are the days of having to travel to neighboring communities for big brands, specialty foods and boutique retailers. These desired stores are now just around the corner or part of the city’s future attraction efforts.

Retail growth is incredibly valuable for the community because it means increased local sales tax generation, which translates into investments in important city services, including: public safety, parks and recreation, new facilities and roads, and various infrastructure projects, among other critical aspects of maintaining our quality of life.

Santa Clarita’s mix of business and residential clientele, infrastructure and facilities makes opening a retail business a good bet and one that we’re working hard to ensure pays off.

So next time you’re thinking about shopping at a local store or eating at a nearby restaurant, take comfort in knowing that your dollars are not only supporting a local business — they are benefiting the community as a whole.

For more information about the city of Santa Clarita’s programs for business visit Santa-Clarita.com.

Marsha McLean is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at mmclean@santa-clarita.com.

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