How is your business doing compared to the same time last year?
More than 70 percent of local firms reported that their businesses are doing slightly or significantly better than a year ago, according to a survey by the Sonoma Valley Economic Development Partnership.
The encouraging results look even better compared to the response to that same question asked a year ago. The 2009 survey showed only 12 percent of area businesses felt their situation had improved over 2008.
Taking another view of the same stats, some seven percent currently think business is significantly worse (zero percent) or slightly worse (seven percent). Last year, the ‘worse’ category was a dominant 71 percent.
Despite the newfound optimism, adding jobs is unlikely, according to the survey. Only 14 percent of the respondents expect to increase staff in the next 12 months.
Results of the annual survey were released last week. Jennifer Yankovich, CEO of the Sonoma Chamber of Commerce, said 14 of the area’s largest 25 companies took part. Those firms, nine in city, three in county and two in both, represent more than 2,000 jobs in the lodging, retail, hardware, and restaurant and services sectors.
Overall, Yankovich said, the survey indicates that the majority of local businesses are doing better than the previous year and expect revenues to continue increasing modestly. “The outlook is positive, yet cautious,” she said.
Looking forward, 79 percent of respondents said they expected operating revenue to increase slighty in the next 12 months. Twenty-one percent expect no change.
Expenditures were projected to increase slightly during the next year by 64 percent of the businesses, while 36 percent see no change.
When they do hire, businesses rated the biggest challenge in finding the right employee as: work ethic (43 percent); language skills (21 percent); and technical and professional skills (21 percent).
Looking forward regarding location and facilities, 21 percent said they planned to expand and 78 percent said they would make energy efficiency and other improvements.
The survey results were outlined in the Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Tops in Sonoma” breakfast at the Sonoma Golf Club on September 24. The event also recognized Sonoma Valley’s largest employers and tax generators (see sidebar). Mayor Steve Barbose and County Redevelopment Manager John Haig presented the 31 companies with a certificate acknowledging the importance of the role they play in the local economy.
2010 Tops in Sonoma
Sonoma Valley’s largest tax generators and employers
Chevron Service Station
Della Santina Restaurant
Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines
& distribution center
El Dorado Kitchen
El Pueblo Inn
Fairmount Sonoma Mission Inn
Friedman’s Home Improvement
The girl & the fig
Jolly Washer Service Station
Kragen Auto Parts
Lodge at Sonoma
MacArthur Place Inn & Spa
Mary’s Pizza Shack
McCaulou’s Department Store
Red Grape Pizzeria
Rite Aid Drugstore
Shell Service Station
Sonoma Truck & Auto Center
Sonoma Valley Inn
St. Francis Winery
Swiss Hotel Restaurant
Union 76 Service Station
Whole Foods Market