Business leaders of the Valley Industry Association (VIA) gathered Tuesday afternoon to receive an update from the City of Santa Clarita about the city’s economic development activity.
Jason Crawford, the city’s acting community development director, told the crowd at the Hyatt Regency in Valencia that Santa Clarita is in “a really good place.”
“We are poised to come out of (the pandemic) very, very strongly, much like during the Great Recession,” said Crawford. “We were one of the communities that rebounded the fastest.”
Monica Fawcett, the city’s interim economic development associate, joined Crawford on stage to present the city’s economic update.
Fawcett said state data indicates a decreasing trend in unemployment in Santa Clarita.
She shared that the 80,857 jobs reported in the city in the first quarter of 2021, which is down from 91,216 during the same time last year, but up from the 77,703 jobs in the second quarter of 2020, at the start of the pandemic.
The city’s unemployment rate was 9.6% in June 2021, according to the state.
In Santa Clarita, Fawcett said the state reported Santa Clarita gained nearly 200 businesses since the start of the pandemic.
“A lot of folks were starting to open up their own business, getting creative, feeling the need to follow the path of entrepreneurship,” she said, noting city and community resources that support local small businesses. “We’re seeing them pursue their dream, tackle the path of entrepreneurship and open up their business in Santa Clarita.”
Fawcett said the city saw a 9.6% increase in the number of filming days this year compared to last year, which had a $35 million economic impact.
“There’s a huge economic benefit to film days because when those production crews are here, they’re keeping their dollars local, they’re patronizing our restaurants, shopping at our retail facilities, and they’re staying at our local hotels,” she said, noting more soundstages opened during the pandemic.
The city’s hotel occupancy rate is up to 82.1% as of June 2021, Fawcett said.
“The Cube is actually one of the biggest generators of hotel room activity via their tournaments,” said Crawford, suggesting the facility’s future functionality has the potential of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. “We are looking at ways that we can use this property, not only for the ice activities, but for non-ice activities, so meetings and events.”
Retail, commercial center and industrial parks have been opening up, Crawford said, pointing to examples like Needham Ranch Business Park, Skyline Ranch and Newhall Crossings.
“There’s a ton of room to grow for businesses that are here, and businesses that are looking to come here,” said Fawcett after listing several new or expanding Santa Clarita businesses.
“Everybody here I’m sure knows people that have had a hard time, but we also have businesses that are betting on Santa Clarita,” Crawford added. “We’ve got investment, we’ve got positive energy and momentum.”
He also highlighted residential and mixed-use developments like Vista Canyon.
Crawford said project like that and Needham Ranch are part of the city’s focus “on finding job centers on the east side of town so that folks don’t have to travel to Valencia for a job or, or travel down to LA, so we’re not only trying to keep jobs here in Santa Clarita, but spread them out throughout the community.”
Another potential job source, Costco, has continued conversations with the city, according to Crawford.
“We’re still in conversations with both Westfield and Costco and Costco wants to open a second location here in Santa Clarita. We’ve turned them around picking up location,” he said. “I am hopeful that maybe once we get COVID behind us that they, they’ll take a look at that site again.”
Crawford said Santa Clarita is near the top of the list for the state as it explores a location for a new courthouse.
“My understanding is the state has funding to do it. Their timeline is not immediate,” he said.