Local merchants speak up at annual ‘business walk’

  ·  Bryan M. Gold, Elk Grove Citizen   ·   Link to Article

Elk Grove city officials alongside members of the Elk Grove and Sacramento Metro chambers of commerce visited Elk Grove businesses on June 27 to learn how they are doing and if there are problems that need to be addressed.

“Everyone talks about how important it is to create jobs at the state capitol,” said Assembly Member Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who spoke before more than 40 volunteers went to different parts of the city.

He added, “We want to make sure we work to create a better business climate. But we can’t do that if we don’t know what’s happening.”

Volunteers said many merchants said business had improved or remained flat compared to a year ago. Safety and security remained an issue, especially in shopping centers or strip malls with a high number of vacancies.

Merchants in Old Town and other areas wanted more activities to draw in customers while merchants on Elk Grove-Florin Road said the community’s numerous Old Town parades harm their businesses.

Signage, just as it was for the two previous business walks, was a major topic of conversation. Some Old Town merchants said they were confused by the type of signage that is allowed.

Some merchants said it’s easier to work with the city compared to previous years. However, one merchant plans to move an Elk Grove business to Sacramento because of the disparity in permitting fees.

One merchant suggested city officials consider opening tattoo parlors and cannabis dispensaries.

Matt Yancey, the director of business and economic development for the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, which coordinated the event, said the data gathered during this and the two previous business walks will add to volume of city information.

“It’s vitally important, as business conditions change year in and year out,” he said. “The more frequently you could get in touch with the same businesses, that’s part of building that relationship.”

He added, “The more frequently you do activities like a business walk, the better you could canvass a business community.”

Randy Starbuck, the city’s economic development director, said the information gathered from the business walk will help him “stay in touch” with issues facing the city’s business community.

“Having three years of data now will help us track any trends in terms of concerns or issues to share with the City Council or other governing entities as well as form the foundation in terms of redirecting policies if necessary,” he said.

Yancey and his team will compile the information gathered during the walk and provide a summary to Elk Grove’s city and chamber officials.