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A checklist for the Sacramento business community

Empty office space in Sacramento

Sacramento’s economy isn’t exactly in the best health compared with other major cities. You may have read throughout the year how the real estate market has turned around and is growing quickly. But if you talk with real estate experts when the cameras aren’t rolling, rising home prices aren’t so much from consumers jumping back into the market as they are from big cash paying investors walking up prices. Unemployment is still high and hiring growth has stalled in several industries outside of health care and low paying restaurant and hospitality jobs. So what does Sacramento need to boost its economy?

The region certainly doesn’t need to build anymore strip malls. The construction industry is down anyway because not even big companies can afford to expand, unless they’re in the health care category. Many strip malls are owned by national companies who are having trouble leasing their stubbornly high priced spaces in a city where cash isn’t exactly king. Even the Sacramento Kings need help from big cash investors. I did read about an investor who owns a building Downtown worth about $5 million. He wants to spend $1.5 million on renovation, but there’s no telling when or if he’ll ever see a return on investment. 

Part of what I do is review lyrics to indie music, which can be inspiring since indie music deals more with social issues than the common throwaway pop song that is stuck on tired formulas about nothingness. I’ve noticed that a lot of indie rap songs deal with economics, joblessness, homelessness and lack of optimism about the future. Yet if we turn to what actually is happening in visionary spheres such as tech and the organic revolution, there are plenty of things to be excited about. Sacramento needs more participation in three booming areas: virtual businesses, organic food and mobile businesses. 

Maybe all that empty office space we find in strip malls can be put to better use by jumping into the 21st century. Instead of big investors trying to sell big office space to the next big box store that’s going to be shredded by the internet, a better idea might be to rent office space to virtual businesses. Sacramento already has a handful of companies that provide virtual offices, which are temporary and low cost office units for businesses that do much of their work online. The more a business can do its work in the cloud, the more it can save money on staff and resources.

The organic food industry is booming across America, yet there still aren’t that many places in Sacramento that sell organic food. Maybe it costs too much to start an organic farm, but it wouldn’t cost that much for investors in empty strip malls to start an organic food truck delivery service, much like the mobile Mexican restaurants you see frequently. Organic food trucks make a lot of sense until there are more organic food stores and restaurants in the area. Big cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego already have organic food trucks that are creating a hot new industry.

Finally, another venture that favors small business and the consumer is the pop up shop. A pop up shop is a temporary small shop that moves around. It’s like a vendor at a flea market that moves their storefront from week to week. The pop up shop idea is working in big markets, so why not Sacramento? These three ideas – virtual offices, organic food trucks and pop up shops – are just three ways for small business to beat a stagnant economy with minimal startup costs. It at least beats waiting around for new government or corporate jobs, which haven’t been economic saviors in a long, long time. Visit SacTV.com to find out more "What This City Needs."

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