The El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce hit the bricks Friday afternoon to take the pulse of a local business community struggling for a piece of the sputtering economic recovery.
For the fifth year running, or in this case walking, teams of chamber members, county officials and regional chamber partners canvassed El Dorado Hills asking three simple questions:
• How’s business?
• What do you like about doing business in the area?
• What could be done to make it better?
All told, the “Biz Walk” surveyed more than 178 businesses. The final results will be compiled by Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce officials, who also participated.
El Dorado Hills Chamber President Debbie Manning explained afterward that the purpose of the walk is to broaden awareness of the businesses in El Dorado Hills, take their pulse and also to identify those that need life support.
During the 2011 Biz Walk, District 2 Supervisor Ray Nutting walked into the El Dorado Hills Taekwondo Center and learned that the owner was considering closing his business due to $53,000 in Traffic Impact Fees triggered by his recent arrival.
Nutting set up a meeting with county officials and was able to transfer usages between the Taekwondo Center’s prior and current location, dramatically reducing the TIM fee and saving the business.
In the short reception after the walk, Manning conducted an informal survey of the teams. All but one team said the majority of the people they spoke with reported that business was “good or average.”
Specialty manufacturing continues to quietly provide good paying jobs in the business park. The team that visited replacement hip and knee manufacturer Consensus Orthopedics reported strong sales, with more than 80 employees.
Rich Downing’s team walked into Personal Defense Weapons, a gun store located in 10,000 square feet of leased space in the business park. The owner reported that business was so good he was planning to buy a 65,000 square foot building, and hopes to eventually employ 30 people.
Downing asked why his business was “booming,” and said the answer surprised him: “Gun sales always spike in an election year.”
Celeste Schliemer’s team found many small businesses struggling, but also met several Bay Area transplants in the business park that reported moving here for the lifestyle.
She also heard repeatedly that rents in the business park were more reasonable than comparable digs in the Bay Area or Sacramento.
Cathey Cort’s team walked into Weckworth Construction in Governor Village and met Carol Shuler, who summed up the local construction climate thusly: “We’d like to get more business if there were more business to be had.”
Nutting stopped in the Taekwondo Center on Friday and reported that they’re doing well. “That was really good to hear,” he said. “The business walk made that happen.”