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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

Numbers Tell Story of an Economy Holding Its Own

Santa Clarita Valley? economic climate is a mixed bag right now, according to the latest economic data and insight from local business professionals. ?e have not escaped the hard times,?says Larry Mankin, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. But there are some signs the economy may be returning to a state of normalcy, he adds. Residential real estate has been a sore spot for Santa Clarita Valley. Median home prices for single-family units dropped from $480,000 in April 2008 to $400,000 in March 2009. Sales of single family homes increased in 2008 from 151 in March to 237 in July. But after July, sales trended downward and hit a low of 147 in January 2009. Since then sales have been inching back up. ?here has absolutely been an uptick in the past couple of months,?says Maggie Wilson, owner of Maggie Wilson Realty Executives in Valencia, adding the $8,000 first time homebuyer tax incentive has spurred activity. Homes in the $650,000 and less range are selling decently, but some short sale properties, where more than one lender is involved, have been difficult to close. Homes in the $800,000 and more range are still having problems, she says. Santa Clarita Valley? total office vacancy rate was 27.9 percent and industrial vacancy rate 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to Colliers International. While net absorption of office was -24,700 square feet, the area? industrial space experienced a positive net absorption of 54,000 square feet. It was one of the only markets in the San Fernando Valley area to experience positive net absorption for industrial space in the first quarter. Mankin says retail and some service businesses have been hurting. Sales tax is down about 15 percent, he says, and the general business climate for retail is down. Participation in the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce also dropped significantly from July 2008 to February 2009, but started picking up again in March, he adds. Santa Clarita? unemployment rate is at 7 percent, one of the lowest in the Los Angeles area and below the state? 11.5 percent. ?nemployment is a problem,?says Mankin, ?ut it? certainly not as bad here as some other areas.? The area? film industry is in good shape. The City of Santa Clarita? film office markets the area? geographic diversity as a prime place for shooting films, commercials, television shows and more. Santa Clarita? city council passed a film incentive program on April 28, says Jessica Freude, economic development associate for the city? film program, which should help the area stay competitive with other filming locales. ?e?e fortunate in Santa Clarita because the film industry is very strong and a lot of people in the business community are working hard to retain that business,?says Freude. ?ll of this builds on our success as a film friendly place.? January 2009 was one of the most successful Januarys to date for filming in the area. The city reported a total of 84 film days in the month and location filming pumped an estimated $2.3 million into the local economy. This compares to an estimated economic impact of $367,500 in January 2008. There were 65 filming days in February 2009, 62 in March and 71 in April, compared to 53, 55, and 58 respectively in 2008, says Freude. The area attracts some feature film productions, but the filming of television shows is its bread and butter, she adds. The estimated local economic impact was $1.5 million in February and $1.6 million in March 2009, compared to $734,500 and $1.1 million respectively the year before. Santa Clarita? tourism industry has been hit by the economic recession. The annual daily rate for rooms in the area was between $108 and $109 between January and March 2009, compared to $116 and $117 for the same period in 2008. Occupancy rates were 44.7 percent in January, 53.2 percent in February and 61.8 percent in March 2009, compared to 47.7 percent, 56.7 percent and 73 percent respectively in 2008. Freude, who also works with the City of Santa Clarita? tourism office, says Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park continues to be a regional destination. The park debuted ?homas Town?last year, an attraction based on the children? icon Thomas the Tank Engine. The park is also getting ready to unveil the ?erminator Salvation?wooden roller coaster. The city and surrounding communities are also working hard to have a solid calendar of events throughout the year. The AmgenTour of California bike race travels through the area, the AT & T; Champions Classic golf tournament takes place at the Valencia Country Club each year, there? a cowboy festival at a local movie ranch, and a variety of art and other festivals throughout the year. ?e?e constantly trying to give people numerous reasons to come back to the Santa Clarita Valley,?says Freude.

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