The Chamber’s Business Advocacy Committee met yesterday (March 8) to address a plethora of issues. The BAC examines issues in depth and makes position recommendations to the Chamber Board when applicable. This month’s agenda included hearing about the Ventura County Airports master plan process, an update on Oxnard’s Navigation Center (homeless shelter and services), an update on the city’s cannabis permit processing, and a status report on the city’s 5-year priorities setting process.
Ventura County Airports
The County of Ventura Department of Airports in embarking on a master plan study of what should happen with the Camarillo and Oxnard airports. The planning project will take place over the next 12 to 18 months with plenty of input from the public. Ventura County’s airports contribute nearly $3 million to our economy every year.
Oxnard’s Navigation Center
The city of Oxnard is moving forward with the development of a 5-story Navigation Center in downtown Oxnard to provide services, shelter, and transitional housing for our homeless population. The city has owned the property at Second and B Streets for many years. Funding for redeveloping the site will come from a number our sources, but not from the city’s general fund.
Last week, the city released the successful retail cannabis applicants list. There are 16 “winners.” Of the 16, three are local equity applicants. Each successful applicant will have one year to obtain their operating permit. The Chamber has been a strong advocate for the city to establish and maintain dedicated staff to process the cannabis permits as swiftly as possible. This will not only assure the retailers can commence business, but will benefit the city’s coffers as they begin to collect fees from those businesses.
Oxnard's 5-year Priorities
Finally, the BAC got a status report on the city’s 5-year priorities setting process. The city launched a survey for residents and businesspeople to complete. The results were shared with the city council at a special meeting on February 25. The council members added specific projects to the categories that were established. (see image below for results about economic development). The process will continue at the March 16 council meeting.
Participation on the Business Advocacy Committee is open to all Chamber members. To receive meeting notices and the logon information, please contact Nancy Lindholm (firstname.lastname@example.org).
By Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
In a year full of economic data outliers, personal income stands out. It is supposed to fall during periods of economic contraction and remain down for some time after. And yet, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ release of income in January, it is now more than 12% higher than it was pre-pandemic. Keep in mind, the economy was doing really well back then. The tremendous rise in income is stunning.
By the numbers: Driving the year-over-year increase was a 10% increase in January alone. That is the second highest monthly increase on record, coming in behind only a 12.4% increase in April 2020. The economy is doing well, all things considered, and the underlying data show that. Wages and salaries of workers rose $7.2 billion, or 0.7%, in January compared to December. In normal times, this would be a large increase. The overwhelming reason income jumped so much last month was government transfers though. They rose $140 billion, representing more than 86% of the total monthly increase.
The government transfers were almost all the latest round of pandemic relief payments, the $600 per person checks that mostly went out in January. Supplemental unemployment insurance benefits also contributed to the rise in income. They increased about $20 billion in January.
Higher income lead to a 2.4% increase in spending, after consecutive declines in November and December. Spending should continue to rise because Americans were unable to spend all the additional income last month. Savings increased $328 billion in January alone. Americans have compiled more than $1.8 trillion in savings above normal in the last 11 months. Those savings are available to boost spending in the coming months.
Looking ahead: February is likely to see a pullback in income because of the end of the relief payments, but March could see another strong rebound if Congress passes another round of payments it is considering now. The economy is poised for major growth starting in earnest when vaccines drive the virus to levels that allow close-to-full reopening.
Last month, the Chamber's Business Advocacy Committee finalized its 2021 legislative issues policy, which was subsequently adopted by the Chamber's Board of Directors. This policy is intended to be a guide for the Chamber's positions on various legislative and policy matters. It is not intended to cover all issues that the Chamber may address.
Support a commitment to pursuing policies that create and retain a balance of job opportunities for a variety of businesses and employees, including encouraging high-paying jobs that strengthen the local economy.
Support local, state and federal proposals to provide jobs via infrastructure projects and encourage government to utilize local contractors and suppliers. Support the city of Oxnard's efforts to assure fiscal responsibility, and to fill any financing gap resulting from the elimination of state and federal funding.
Support federal legislation to decriminalize cannabis or reclassify it as a lower than "Schedule I" drug to allow the industry to establish normal banking relationships.
Health and Public Safety:
Support federal, state and local programs that provide services, clean shelter and transitional housing for the homeless population. Support funding and programs to enhance disaster planning and responses.
Support strategies that include promoting a full range of housing in all communities; support federal and state incentives for providing workforce housing; and reform the regulatory framework to eliminate unnecessary barriers to providing housing. Support efforts to assure neighboring communities provide adequate housing for their workforces. Support housing strategies and projects that maintain a healthy jobs/housing balance.
Support significant reforms to California's political process as well as the state's revenue structure; support state and local governments' efforts to achieve or maintain balanced budgets.
Support policies that encourage continuing improvement in California and local infrastructure, which supports stronger businesses and job growth.
Support reforms of federal immigration laws that assure an adequate workforce while addressing border security and the status of undocumented workers.
Support a healthy business growth and land use environment and oppose local initiatives that would unduly constrict business attraction, development and expansion.
Support trade and tourism initiatives to spur commerce and to maximize our region's position in the global economy.
Support enhanced public safety efforts and preserve funding for existing programs and staffing. Public safety should be a top priority for local government.
The Oxnard Chamber Ambassador’s committee is an important resource for chamber members. With a
“customer-facing” mission, the Ambassadors are the field team that liaise with members and help them
better engage with chamber resources, events and other chamber members. Our team conducts
welcome introductions with new members, and check-in’s with existing members. Because of our
ongoing communications, the team has a strong pulse on the Oxnard business community and is a
valuable source of referrals.
Due to the pandemic, businesses all over Oxnard are struggling. We need Ambassadors more than ever
to reach out and support our members at this time. We are inviting chamber members who want to
engage more in the Oxnard business community, and network with our team, to visit one of our
meetings and assess whether there is interest in joining as an Ambassador. We’re a fun group, and
meet on the first Wednesday of every month at noon.
As Ambassadors, we are also interested in learning more about local businesses so we can engage and
refer them. If you would like to introduce your business to our team, we would be happy to set up a 10-
minute slot for you. Just reach out to Doug Riffenburgh, Ambassador Committee Chair at 818-390-3009.
We look forward to talking with you!
Shoptimism is a term being used to describe purchases made from home during the pandemic. You are stuck at home and suddenly begin to see every flaw, paint chip and cluttered closet. So, you buy things to fix the situation — or you buy things to make you feel better about it.
When consumers buy things they don't need, such as luxury items, in the middle of a public health crisis, it's called "shoptimism." This term was coined by Lee Eisenberg in his 2009 book of the same title.
Why Do We Buy Things?
According to Eisenberg, people buy things to provide emotional relief from the anxiety of living in a pandemic and economically uncertain times. He describes two kinds of buyers. The classic buyer compares prices, deliberates on whether they need a product and then makes a purchase. The romantic buyer shops emotionally, purchasing trendy or "cool" items that boost their emotional state. In general, the romantic buyer cares about the emotional satisfaction of the purchase rather than the utility of the product.
E-commerce and M-commerce
Consumers are used to the convenience of online shopping (e-commerce), especially via their mobile devices (m-commerce). The click-and-collect culture isn't going anywhere soon. Not only is it safer but the convenience and faster delivery times make it easier than shopping in stores. Generous return policies sealed the deal.'
The rise of in-store pickup makes it easy to order online, drive up for contactless service and refuse any items that do not meet your expectations. This frictionless experience has risen due to the global pandemic, but consumers are likely to demand it for long afterwards.
Savvy brands will continue to capitalize on this moving into 2021. Even shoppers who do visit traditional stores now pre-research products and services online. Vendors who cannot meet consumers in cyberspace may find themselves pushed aside by competitors with a strong digital presence.
Contactless shopping and payment provide a safe way for consumers to purchase online and pick up at participating stores. Consumers can also use the technology to shop or pay for items at retail stores.
Using biometrics and Amazon One technology, consumers scan one palm to make purchases at participating stores. Privacy advocates are watching the new technology as closely as facial-recognition software, which raised concerns with the ACLU and other advocate groups.
The technology does not require physical contact and palm images are encrypted in the cloud rather than on local devices. Users can delete their Amazon one account if security becomes a concern.
Younger Generations Are Exhibiting Shoptimism
Generation Z has been hit hard by the pandemic employment situation. The youngest generation in the workforce is often the first let go in a downturn and those graduating from college may have a harder time finding employment in their field.
Research from Smart Company, an Australian publication, showed a rise in purchases among Gen Z shoppers from shopping platforms offering payment plans. These shoppers appreciated the safety, anonymity and speed of online transactions. Perhaps that's why usage of e-commerce and m-commerce is increasingly popular among demographically younger shoppers.
Shoptimism goes beyond the recent tendency of homebound consumers to make frivolous purchases online. New technology and changing consumer expectations make it imperative that businesses take their brands to the internet if they want to attract consumers away from competitors.