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Business briefs

HCBR staff report

The Summit County Business Barometer finished the fourth quarter of 2006 with a stable reading of 3.49. The third quarter reading had been 3.57, and the average for the entire year was 3.48.The inaugural year for this survey gathered local economic data to help highlight changes in business conditions and trends as a business planning tool. In the third party survey, respondents are asked to rate their current level of business activity, to compare the current level to past periods and to give their assessment for the upcoming 12 months. The questions are graded on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being the strongest.Comparison of the current level of business activity to the same period one year ago yielded a reading of 3.51. This remained unchanged from the third quarter and brought the full year average to 3.55. Expectations for the upcoming 12 months are robust, as indicated by the fourth quarter reading of 4.38. The yearly average for 2006 was 4.30.The areawide survey also is used to gather data on inflation trends within the county. For the fourth quarter, 78 percent of those reporting said the prices they paid for goods and services rose, with the average increase being 7.1 percent. When asked if they raised the prices they charged their customers for goods and services, only 35 percent said yes and 57 percent of the respondents said they kept their prices about the same. For those who did raise prices, the average increase was 5.4 percent.Up to this point, participation in the survey has been limited to Summit Chamber members, but there is a possibility it be extended to all businesses in the county. Comments are welcome and can be directed to the chamber office at (970) 668-2051 or Mark Nunn at (970) 668-3811. The Summit County Business Barometer is co-sponsored by the Summit Chamber of Commerce, Edward Jones Investments and John Boozer & Associates.

House Bill 1325, sponsored by Rep. Joe Rice (D- Littleton) passed unanimously through the House Finance committee on March 14. HB 1325 increases the exemption for business personal property taxation from $2,500 to $7,000 in three incremental steps by 2011. After 2013, the exemption amount would increase according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of metro areas. The measure would exempt approximately 30 percent of small businesses, totaling approximately 30,400 businesses. The business personal property tax exemption increase is long overdue for Colorados small business community, Rep. Rice said. At one point the current exemption may have made sense but the changing economy is such that it almost costs more for government and small businesses to process and administer than the income it currently generates. The proposed changes in HB 1325 are invaluable for the development of small businesses in our state.The measure has support from the National Federation of Independent Business, the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry, the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants, among others. The bill now goes to the appropriations committee for further debate.

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