"Henny Penny" said she, "the sky is falling"
"Why, Chicken Little, how do you know that?"
"Oh, I heard it with my ears; I saw it with my eyes,
And part of it fell on my head."
"Come, then," says Henny Penny, "let us run as fast as we can."
-- The Remarkable Story of Chicken Little
While expert economists use very elaborate models and formulas to analyze and forecast market conditions, the processes of basic city government best describe how a local economy is faring.
At the municipal level, city management is given a significant economic indicator through the monitoring of business licensing. Businesses that have been able to find their niche have weathered the storm, while other capital ventures have met misfortune.
The past six years have been a frustrating and challenging economic period for corporate America. Following the evolution of business during this era has provided interesting lessons on commerce either adapting or falling by the wayside.
Business licensing methods help determine local economic conditions. Permit requests for new housing and for remodeling, property tax valuations and other information collected at the local level also add to a better understanding of current market conditions.
Whether the company is a multi-national Air Force contractor, regional sit-down restaurant or a one-
person home business, every business is required to go through the process to obtain a business license.
As such, the type of commerce being conducted and the number of businesses applying for that privilege can be telling of economic conditions. For instance, it is common during an economic downturn to see an increase in the number of home business licenses and to see more local retailers expanding while fewer national retailers are looking for new locations. This has been particularly evident during the most recent recession.
So ... no Chicken Little, the sky isn't falling!
I use Northern Utah as an example of a rebounding robust economy. In Layton city alone, residential housing permits are close to pre-recession numbers. Multifamily housing is bringing more residents closer to the commercial city center core. Hospitals are expanding, vacant buildings are being reoccupied, and business research parks are developing.
"Historic downtowns" are being revitalized. There is even a train station renovation happening.
Home Depot and Black Turtle Call Centers have brought close to 2,000 well-paying jobs to the region. Existing retailers are upgrading locations, and new retail is building. There are new restaurants, new business offices, institutional expansion and hotels. Transportation improvements are being done that include trail systems and walkable communities to facilitate a better quality of life.
Not to mention a public-private/private-public initiative that is being implemented with the Air Force that will solidify relationships for a very long time.
A slow national economic recovery continues, while the local picture has a rosy tint.
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.