EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Figueroa Street Improvement Project is a joint enterprise of research and community involvement. Community partners have actively collaborated with the Northeast Los Angeles COPC to design and implement the survey, as well as to disseminate and apply its findings to practical purpose. In surveying merchants on Figueroa Street, we were seeking to: a) identify their needs and priorities with regard to business, crime, sanitation, and traffic issues, b) to determine their interest in joining the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce and utilizing the new Business Assistance Center, and c) to invite them to organize a Business Improvement District. These efforts are aimed at addressing commercial and physical decline on Figueroa Street, organizing merchants, and fostering broader community revitalization in the surrounding Northeast Los Angeles region.
The following is a list of key findings and improvements indicated by the 67 merchants that participated in the survey:
- More than half (58%) of merchants surveyed identified themselves as Latinos, this is indicative of what is occurring throughout LA County where minority-owned businesses are increasing and Latinos make up 47%.
- There was a high percentage of sole proprietors among the 67 merchants surveyed, 72% compared to 8% for LA County. More than half (57%) also stated that their businesses were family owned and operated.
- The survey found that business prosperity is either stable or improving as opposed to declining. Economic recovery is also linked with new business growth, indicated by the fact that 42% of participating merchants have less than five years at Figueroa Street.
- Most businesses operate with three or less employees, 52% of whom are employed full-time.
- The survey found that 83% of merchants rent the property where they conduct their business, and out of these only 25% expressed any interest in purchasing the property.
- The survey also found that 63% of merchants who are renting their business property are paying affordable rents.
FINANCIAL AND BUSINESS ISSUES
- A significant 77% of merchants reported holding business accounts with major banks such as Bank of America and 55% use local Highland Park bank branches.
- Most participants would like the Highland Park Business Assistance Center to provide and extend free business consultation and loan assistance to Figueroa Street merchants. This would update merchants on the latest database software, and could introduce them to business tactics that would in turn improve the quality and level of business they afford. Merchants would also like an extension of workshops in business planning, marketing, licensing and spreadsheets. This would improve the business â€śknow howâ€