When Blockbuster went bankrupt, someone or some people fixed the sign of the Davis branch to read Blockbusted. But several months have passed now and there are fewer reasons for people to frown at or lampoon the Davis economy.
Overall, sales tax revenues are down from 2008; however, many instances of local economic prosperity show that Davis is in the economic upswing, according to business development experts.
“We’re in the midst of a period of change, a period of flux,” said Kemble Pope, chief everything officer of The Centaur Group, a business consulting firm in downtown Davis. “Businesses like Borders that don’t quickly adapt to the prevailing economic conditions and market demands are failing and businesses that are more nimble and responsive are taking advantage of the situation by improving their locations or expanding their footprint.”
The Irish pub De Vere’s, for example, is expanding its business from a single presence in Sacramento’s midtown district to an additional location in downtown Davis. The new pub will replace the former Agave bar and celebrate its grand opening next Monday.
“There’s actually very little commercial space for businesses in downtown Davis,” Pope said .
In general, the restaurant sector has actually shown a marked improvement in Davis. Earlier this year, Tres Hermanas replaced Pasta?. Let Them Eat Cake, the cupcake specialty store, improved its Davis location by moving from L Street to downtown.
“Some businesses are doing well, such as some technology companies that are adding staff. Other retail businesses are not doing as well. The good news is that property values in Davis did not decline as much as in other surrounding jurisdictions, and people and businesses continue to be interested in moving to or opening a business in Davis,” said Sarah Worley, economic development coordinator for the City of Davis.
In September, Blue Oak Energy, providers of photovoltaic power to high-profile communities in both the public and private sectors, established new headquarters on Drew Avenue in Davis. The alternative energy company has provided energy to the likes of Google, the city of San Diego, and Bay Area Rapid Transit, as well as a host of other businesses and city governments.
In June, Mori Seiki, one of the largest manufacturers of machine tools in the world, began construction of a new facility along Second Street. This addition to the local economy is expected to bring in 150 to 200 jobs. Seiki’s choice in having the new building in Davis is largely attributed to the wealth of engineering talent at UC Davis.
“But,” Worley said, “the situation again varies among individual businesses.”
Sweet Briar Books, an independent bookstore on G Street, is the most recent local casualty. The store has made plans to close shop by the end of December.
While the city of Davis has no statistic on the total vacancy rates in business properties, Melanie Glover, spokesperson for the Davis Downtown Business Assocation, said that “many of the Downtown businesses that are currently ‘empty’ are actually already leased and will open once permitting procedures are taken care of.”
To support the Davis economy, Glover recommends buying locally the next time you shop.
“For every $100 spent in locally-owned independent stores in Davis, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures,” she said.
RAMON SOLIS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.