1/12/2013 10:00:00 PM ACTIVE GROWTH: Business licenses holding steady in PV, Chino, Prescott
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier Natasha Wight of Bright StepZ Fitness & Dance in Prescott Valley teaches a zumba class to children Jan. 10. She opened her studio in July 2012.
Ken Hedler The Daily Courier
The number of business licenses held largely steady in the towns of Prescott Valley and Chino Valley in 2011 and 2012 and the City of Prescott.
The Prescott Valley Town Clerk's office issued 469 new licenses and 476 special events licenses, and renewed 1,999 licenses in 2012.
That compares with 497 new licenses in 2011, 1,995 renewed licenses and 439 special events licenses.
Chino Valley issued 141 new licenses and closed 93 licenses in 2012, according to figures that Hilda Little, administrative technician in the Development Services Department, supplied. In 2011, the town issued 121 new licenses and closed 150 licenses. Closed licenses involve businesses that shut down, did not renew their licenses or had their licenses revoked.
Both towns require businesses to renew their licenses a year after they are issued.
The City of Prescott has 9,001 active licenses, said Katie Pehl, privilege tax supervisor, adding she thinks the number is higher than in 2011.
The city requires the licenses only of businesses that generate sales tax revenues, including rentals, stores, restaurants, contracting, advertising and publishing.
Businesses pay for one-time licenses and do not have to renew them, she said.
The Town of Dewey-Humboldt, which has a small commercial base, only issues home-business permits. The town issued four such permits in 2012, down from five in 2011, according to Mandi Garfield, administrative assistant.
Like Dewey-Humboldt, Yavapai County does not issue business licenses and requires home businesses to obtain permits, said Kathy Houchin, manager of customer service and permitting for the Development Services Department. Her department issued 25 home-occupation permits in 2011 and 16 in 2012.
The number of business licenses in a city or town is an indicator of economic activity, said Ron Gunderson, a professor of economics at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Gunderson said the fact that a jurisdiction issued more business licenses in one year indicates the economy might be healthier than in the previous year.
However, with one year, "you don't get a real good trend," he said.
In Prescott Valley, relative stability in the number of businesses over a two-year period "shows that the economy is still a little bit sluggish," said Greg Fister, the town's economic development manager.
"Everything seems to be pointing up," he said. "I think 2013 will be a little bit better than 2012, but it won't be anything to write home about."
Fister continued, "Actually, I thought the number of new business licenses had increased because the economy is getting better, not by leaps and bounds but by little baby steps."
The change in numbers in Chino Valley shows "the economic situation the way it is," said Tom Payne, chairman of the board of the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce and owner of Tom's Print & Sign.
He said the municipal government has made strides to improve the business climate by opening a business center in the Development Services.
"It's kind of an information center, similar to what the chamber does," Payne said.
Both the towns of Chino Valley and Prescott Valley issue monthly reports on business licenses that they issue. The reports identify the owners and names of the news businesses, and their addresses and phone numbers.
For instance, the report from Prescott Valley for this past August lists Bright StepZ Fitness & Dance Studio, which opened a month earlier at 8516 E. Highway 69.
Owner Natasha Wight, a zumba dance instructor, said she decided to open the studio because she lost 65 pounds taking zumba classes. She dropped from a size 18 to a size 8.
"I struggled with thyroid issues for eight years," she said. "I love to dance, and started doing zumba."
Wight said she decided to get certified after her teacher moved to Phoenix, and that set her plans in motion to open the studio.