By David Benda, Record Searchlight, March 2013
Is Shasta County’s economy ready to take off?
The Economic Development Corp. of Shasta County says a Milken Institute study indicates just that.
Milken’s report showed the Redding metropolitan statistical area (MSA) ranked eighth in the United States among small cities in short-term job growth, from May 2011 to May 2012.
Overall, Redding didn’t do as well, placing 153 out of 179 small metros in the 2012 Best-Performing Small Cities survey, moving up six places from 2011. Longer-term job and wage growth and high-tech gross domestic product growth dragged down
Redding’s overall score.
Chico ranked 172, dropping 50 places from Milken’s 2011 performance index. Chico ranked 124th in short-term job growth.
Columbus, Ind., led the country in short-term job growth for small cities.
Milken is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank in southern California recognized as an authority on regional markets.
EDC President Mark Lascelles said his group was skeptical about the job growth when they first saw the Milken report, so he brought in Sheila Stock, a state labor analyst based in Redding, to crunch numbers.
Stock calculated that Shasta County gained 3,400 jobs from May 2011 to May 2012. Most of the growth came in the private sector, including farming, manufacturing, professional and business services, education and health services, and leisure
Professional and business services includes lawyers, architects, legal services, accounting, engineering, computer systems designers, advertising and environmental consultants.
Lascelles contends the area’s job market grew without much help from construction, which has been depressed since the collapse of the housing market. But he believes projects like the Sheraton Hotel and affordable interest rates will bolster
commercial and residential building over the next year.
The growth in construction would be good news for building and home improvement stores, carpet and flooring outlets, restaurants and other retailers, Lascelles said, because of the construction’s multiplier effect.
Still, Shasta County’s job growth rate has slowed significantly since May (1,800 jobs were added in December compared with a year ago) and the numbers are well below where they were at before the Great Recession hit.
Lascelles explained they used the May over May numbers to parallel the Milken study.
“These numbers were impressive and would have been very difficult to maintain at that pace,” Lascelles said. “The year over year does show a slowing in some sectors but overall we still see a continued good upward trend.”
That’s what Cliff Curry of CGi Technical Services sees, too.
Established in 1999, Curry’s firm is a geotechnical engineering and construction materials construction company with 15 full-time and 25 part-time employees.
CGi Technical Services’ business grew 10 percent to 15 percent in 2012 over 2011, which was a record year for the company. Curry expects business in 2013 to be on par with 2011.
“We have a real niche market and so we have been able to land quite a few federal highway projects,” Curry said.
Ironically, Curry has seen his best years during the recession.
“Our market has evolved ever year with some requirements Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) has put forth in contracts,” Curry said. “So back in the boom years, the amount of work the state mandated contractors do as far as
our business goes was much smaller. Now virtually every project the state does, the contractor has some responsibility to do their own quality control and testing, and that is where we come in.”
Meanwhile, the Captive-Aire plant in Redding hopes its production momentum continues in 2013. The plant near Redding Municipal Airport makes commercial kitchen ventilation systems for restaurants, schools, prisons and military institutions.
Captive-Aire’s business in Redding was up nearly 15 percent in 2012. Only the North Carolina-based manufacturer’s plant in Pennsylvania did better, said Joe Higgins, director of manufacturing for the firm’s West Coast operations.
“We did hire on additional personnel last year and we had a great year,” Higgins said of the Redding plant, which has roughly 90 employees.
Captive-Aire hopes to break ground this spring on an expansion in Redding that would give the company more storage, more truck and employee parking and incorporate a loading dock.
Last year, the company bought a vacant lot next to its main plant for the purpose to expand.
Milken Institute’s 2012 Best-Performing Cities
1, San Jose
2, Austin, Texas
3, Raleigh, N.C.
5, Washington, D.C.
1, Logan, Utah
2, Morgantown, WV
3, Bismarck, N.D.
4, Odessa, Texas
5, Fargo, N.D.
Most active sectors
Growth from May 2011-May 2012
Farming: 16.67 percent
Goods produced: 6.12 percent
Manufacturing: 9.09 percent
Private service: 7.99 percent
Professional and business services: 10.2 percent
Education and health services: 9.17 percent
Leisure and hospitality: 11.67 percent
Source: Milken Institute Study of Best Performing Cities and EDD