Chamber survey cites traffic concerns

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It's a refrain heard time and time again: One of the biggest impediments to doing business in Carson City is the tremendous downtown traffic problem.

In a Chamber of Commerce survey of 24 firms doing business in Carson City, nine respondents cited traffic as one of the primary deterrents to local economic health. And many suggested that fast completion of the Highway 395 bypass should be a government priority.

But half rated city regulations and ordinances, particularly a restrictive sign ordinance, as the biggest business liabilities. According to the report, "Many commented that they believed the current regulations are not uniformly or equally enforced."

The benefits of doing business may outweigh the detriments as Carson City reaches out to relocating and new businesses.

Seventeen of the businesses cited Carson City's quality of life/livability as the most prominent benefit of business life in the capital, followed by its central location and the small size of the community.

"People believe in the quality of life, neighbors and family life as the main assets of Carson City," said Larry Osborne, chamber executive vice president. "These are not assets for major chains because for them it does not stack up against the bottom line."

The business contact program, a joint project of the chamber and Carson City, reached a turning point this week. Osborne will present his first report to the Carson City Board of Supervisors on Thursday in what he calls an ongoing effort to forecast Carson City's business climate.

In this first phase of the program, city staff and business people sat down to talk candidly about the things that need to be done for the future of business life in the city. Similar efforts will be duplicated in other sectors of the local economy, such as development, service and manufacturing in the coming months.

Periodically the chamber will report back to the board in the hopes that survey findings will affect business-friendly changes in Carson City.

Of the retailers surveyed in the "Phase 1" report, 42 percent said their companies plan to expand with space, employment or additional outlets. And while most said the local labor market lacks in skills, they also said this is unlikely a problem directly related to the local educational process.

Some suggested improvements by the participants include:

-- streamlined processes for businesses as they go through regulatory channels

-- recognition by city and chamber of businesses improving the community

-- developing improved traffic flow as a temporary substitute during freeway construction

-- combining education efforts to improve labor training problems


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