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City says number of new and renewed business licenses are down

Saving small businesses essential to America's economic recovery
Posted at 4:17 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 22:48:23-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — There was once a fitness center located on Rosedale Highway, but if you drive by it now you’ll find a furniture store in its place.

During the pandemic, we've seen many businesses close, but we've also seen many open. The COVID-19 pandemic waged a financial war on businesses throughout the country and here in Bakersfield, the numbers for business license renewals and new licenses issued are down.

"The City of Bakersfield has experienced a decline in the number of licenses since 2018. The biggest decline has been in the last year,” said Joe Conroy, spokesperson for the City of Bakersfield. “While we never like to see a decrease in business activity the numbers do not indicate any reason that we have for significant concern at this time."

Conroy said a licensed activity report for new and renewed licenses, that ran from the beginning of the pandemic to the end of the calendar year in 2020, showed a decrease compared to the same period last year.

It's important to note that license tracking begins and ends in June each year, so some of the numbers for 2020 are still in process.

In 2018, there were over 5,000 new business licenses issued. That number dropped to 4,257 in 2019 and so far the projected numbers in 2020 show 3,339 businesses have filed for a new license.

As for business license renewals, in 2018 there were over 21,000 renewals. The latest city data shows that number decreased in 2020 and over 3,800 businesses didn't renew their license.

When asked if the lack of renewals was directly linked to the economic impacts of the pandemic, Conroy said the answer is not so simple.

"The city is not regulatory and so we don't require a reason or an answer for why a business closes,” he said. “It’s difficult to say this business closed because of the pandemic or because of any other reason. We just don't know. We don't track that."

Although many businesses are closing, Dave Anderson, a financial advisor and the owner of MoneyWise Guys, said he sees a silver lining.

"We are seeing applications for new businesses starting to increase. So generally during a time of panic, during a time of economic uncertainty, you do have a lot of pain felt but you also have a lot of businesses that start during these times,” Anderson said. “I predict that down the road some of the most successful businesses that we'll become aware of would have actually been started during the pandemic."