You read, hear or watch it everyday – another business shutters, a corporation seeks a bailout and families at home are cutting back. The state of the economy is hitting us here at the City too as our administrators try to find ways to cut costs while continuing to deliver City services.
Businesses in the City and everywhere are struggling to get new clients and are doing everything possible to keep those that they have. Retail competition exists around every corner, in every City. All of a sudden and almost overnight, Cities have begun to feel the hurt as businesses close, sales taxes slow, and other City revenues decline.
Unlike a hiccup in the market, or an adjustment in prices confined to a small sector of the economy, our trouble represents a systematic breakdown. For Pasadena and Cities everywhere, the woes of the State are further impacting our condition as the State’s structure is so dependant on local tax generation. For small businesses, they struggle to pay rent to landlords, some of whom can offer relief, others who too are pressured to perform for investors and cannot offer relief, or yet others who are so small that they too depend on the rental income to cover their costs. Like the eco system, each player relies on another for food, and ultimately, they on another.
So what is Pasadena doing to help? Everything that we can, but the task is difficult –how do you explain that the condition exists everywhere, but overall Pasadena isn’t doing too bad when their sales have dropped 10, 15, or even 30%. 4th quarter retail sales did not fall too deeply compared to surrounding Cities, good news yes, but we are cautious as we have yet to see the returns from first quarter of 2009. Economic Development continues to reach out to our smallest and largest players as we are all in the same pool, trying to lend a hand, provide important, accurate and timely information. We are working with Business Districts and other businesses encouraging the co-investment of dollars for marketing and financially participating where we can.
Now like no other, down-time cost not only budgeted costs, but lost opportunities and can result in failure before you even get started. I ask you to consider the following - could you withdraw your checking, savings, or retirement and quit your job in an attempt to open your own business? Imagine two weeks, one month, six months without a paycheck waiting on an answer, waiting on a permit. Seems foolish to some but others do it everyday. Some call it development or investment risk, but entrepreneurs are not everywhere and good ideas do not equal success. What does is the incredible amount of courage and persistence to make it work and be successful, regardless.
Now more than ever, put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, the tax payer, or investor and make sure that the information that you are providing is accurate, timely and can facilitate a return to health. We cannot react on short term problems at the detriment of our long term vision, but we can make sure that what you are doing fulfills the needs of both, they are not mutually exclusive.