If slow and steady wins the race, the City of U.P. is on pace to be a champion.
Recent data indicates that a record number of businesses are now located within the city. And storefront businesses now out-number home-based businesses.
Tracking the growth of businesses since the City was incorporated 25 years ago is somewhat difficult, however. According to Becky Metcalf, program assistant in the Economic Development Department, determining business license numbers prior to 2011 are difficult. “The state began issuing the licenses in 2011, but prior to that we used a different software program that is no longer used,” she explains. “Much of our early data is based on a variety of sources, not the least of which was our annual business directories, which listed the majority (but not all) of the businesses in the city.”
Based on a review of data available today, however, Metcalf reports:
- In 2005, the city was home to approximately 700 businesses.
- By 2011, the number of businesses in U.P. was 1,057.
- As of Dec. 31, 2019, there were 1,497 businesses licensed in University Place.
The ongoing development in the Village at Chambers Bay and redevelopment of existing spaces such as Green Firs have contributed to this growth, but do not account for all of it. “These numbers also indicate that our growing reputation as a retail and service hub is attracting more customers–and more and more businesses that want to get in on the action,” Metcalf says.
As for the number of people these businesses employ, that number is also a bit challenging to nail down with great certainty because of everything from seasonal hires to closings and openings. But according to the City’s Regional Growth Area Subarea Plan that was created in 2015, there were 6,319 people employed in University Place.
“Given that our population is just over 33,000, that represents a healthy local employment rate, but we are always looking for more and more opportunities for people to find work in U.P.,” Metcalf says.