Despite woes, merchants upbeat

Union Democrat staff

The Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce has released its annual State of the County Survey for 2012. Answers to questions about expanding business show a dominantly negative trend in the county.

However, more than 40 percent of responders report business up from 2011, and a majority agree that "Tuolumne County is a good place to do business."

The survey containing 15 questions is sent from the chamber to member businesses each year. Only 6 percent, or 38 businesses, responded this year. Last year, 7 percent responded.

This makes the report "statistically marginal," according to chamber President George Segarini, who said he wasn't sure why response to the survey is down.

He conjectured that with the downtrodden economy, businesses may simply be less enthusiastic about reporting.

Though only 7 percent took part in the survey last year, a notable difference was the type of businesses responding. Last year saw retail at 34 percent, nearly double the 18 percent that responded this year; service at 56 percent, compared with 72 percent this year; and manufacturing nearly stable at 8 percent last year and 9 percent this year.

Segarini concluded that it seems economically "we are bumping along on the downside - not getting lower, but there is optimism for both the local and national economy."

Question 14, "Do you believe the County and City are currently doing their best in supporting economic development," was a new question this year, and Segarini said he was surprised at the response.

A slight majority responded that they did not believe the governments were doing their best, but Segarini feels that they have been doing a good job.

For more information, call the chamber at 532-4212 or visit .

Survey results (by percent):

1. Type of business: Retail, 18; Service, 72; Manufacturing, 9

2. Business in 2012 as compared with previous year: Up, 42; Down, 27; Same, 30

3. I intend to expand my business in the near future: Yes, 28; No, 72

4. I intend to hire more employees in the near future: Yes, 19; No, 71

5. I intend to make investment in new machinery or building expansion: Yes, 9; No, 85

6. I intend to downsize: Yes, 9; No, 91

7.The current employee pool has the type of people I'm looking to hire: Yes, 57; No, 28

8. Work ethics are very important to me as an employer: Yes, 100; No, 0

9. I believe the national economy will continue to improve this year (2013): Yes, 61; No, 33

10. I believe the state economywill expand this year: Yes, 33; No, 57

11. I believe the local economy will expand this year (2013): Yes, 57; No, 43

12. Tuolumne County is a good place to do business: Yes, 85; No, 9

13. Are you aware of the Business Alliance business workshops: Yes, 95; No, 5

14. Do you believe the County and City are currently doing their best in supporting economic development: Yes, 38; No, 47

15. Do you think the regulatory environment is better in the City or the County: City, 42; County, 23

Some totals may not equal 100 because not all responders answered all questions.

The Union Democrat
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