A September “Business Walk” by members of the Woodland Chamber of Commerce found most people were “very positive and upbeat.”
The findings, reported by the Chamber and Wendy Ross, economic development manager for the city of Woodland, came this week following interviews with 127 business owners.
“More than three-quarters of interviewed Woodland businesses think that business is going well,” the report found. The “walk” has been done yearly with results reflecting both the state and national economy. The theme this year was “workforce” and because it’s expected that both the city and Chamber will be commissioning a Workforce Development Taskforce/Subcommittee to develop a Workforce Development Strategic Plan.
The results of the survey were tabulated by the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which does the studies as part of an overall program for the six-county Sacramento region. In Woodland, the survey was held on Sept. 22.
Questions asked in the survey were along the lines of “how’s business?”, what people like about doing business in the area, what needs to be done to make it better as well as a series of questions about staffing and whether anyone had noticed changes in the water following the city’s transition in 2016 to treated surface water?
Specifically the study found of the 86 businesses responding to the question of “How’s Business?” 77 percent said it was “good or great.” “Just nine percent of businesses reported doing poorly and they attributed their lack of customers mainly to changing markets.
In terms of “what do you like about doing business in Woodland?” the responses fell in general categories of clientele, location, access and cost of doing business.
“Many businesses have been in the area for many years and enjoy the location,” according to the report. “H&H Supply Inc stated that the access to freeways and major cities was great for business. They feel that woodland is the perfect place for them to continue to grow and prosper.”
Woodland’s affordability was also important for some firms, with specific attention paid to cheaper rents for the amount of space offered.
As for what merchants feel needs improvement, there were a litany of reasons, the most surprising of which, however, was that 23 percent “had no immediate priorities for improvement.”
But 31 percent of businesses listed issues with “infrastructure and beautification efforts — a category which included both parking and homelessness — the two most often listed problems.”
“Businesses all over Woodland have indicated that homelessness is a problem,” the report found. “Another common problem was with permitting, regulation and fees (16 percent),” the report continued. “Some businesses felt that the permitting process was too restrictive, or too slow, and wanted it changed to be faster and more efficient.”
Other suggestions included having better broadband internet access, as well as increasing the diversity of the types of businesses present in Woodland especially high tech industry. “Interviewees felt that higher tech jobs would be of great benefit to the city and increase the market for skilled workers,” the report summarized.
As for staffing needs and the workforce, the report found that in recent meetings with business leaders, the need for a more “robust, comprehensive and relevant workforce development program in Woodland has long been noted as a top priority.”
The report found that 23 percent of businesses interviewed are not fully staffed. “Across the board, this indicates many open jobs and opportunities for Woodland residents.” However about 69 percent feel that the local skilled labor force “does not adequately meet their needs. They feel they must look outside Woodland to places that train in relevant skill areas to find the necessary talent, skills and abilities their positions required.”
As well, the survey found many Woodland firms hire frequently with 45 percent hiring the in the month before the survey was taken, and a combined 49 percent indicating they might be hiring in the next 18 months.
“The frequency of hiring, combined with the substantial number of businesses not fully staffed and lacking a skilled labor pool indicates the need for workforce development in Woodland,” the survey found.
As for the transition from well water to surface water, the Chamber survey found the Woodland-Davis Surface Water Project didn’t present any problems.
“Overall, the interviewed population had not noticed any difference in their water quality — with 60 percent of respondents stating as much.”
However, 21 percent found the quality of water was better, while 19 percent thought it was worse.
As reported by the survey: “40 percent of respondents stated they had noticed a difference, with 21 percent experiencing positive change, saying the water tasted better, and was significantly softer than the well water that Woodland had been on until the surface-water project came online. A few business owners even reported being able to disconnect their water softeners.
“The remaining 19 percent of surveyed businesses that had noticed the change in water had experienced a decrease in water quality,” the survey found and that they cited “concerns of rust and particulate matter in the water, an issue that will subside with time as the water system adapts to the new water.”
The survey was sponsored by not only the Woodland chamber, but by the city of Woodland, The Daily Democrat, dignity Health, Dutch Bros. Coffee, Las Brasas, and CTA Prints. Regional sponsors included the Sacramento Metro Chamber, Rabobank, SAFE Credit Union, Five Start Bank, tri counties bank, First Northern Bank, FOX 40 and SBDC California.
Source: Daily Democrat