St. Tammany business briefs for Aug. 15, 2013

Chamber hosts meal with Mayor Drennan

The East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce will sponsor breakfast with the mayor.

Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan will give a State of the City address Friday at LaRosetta’s, 348 Robert Blvd., in Slidell.

Doors open at 8 a.m. and the presentation will begin at 8:30.

Reservations are required and the cost is $25.

For information, contact the chamber at (985) 643-5678 or email info@estchamber.com.

Quarterly earnings report released

The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation recently released its quarterly Trends Report, detailing local economic data for the first quarter of 2013.

The number of employed St. Tammany Parish residents fell 2 percent, or more than 2,000, from 107,430 to 105,303, compared with fourth quarter of 2012. The unemployment rate fell from 5.9 percent to 5.2 percent in year-over-year comparison of corresponding quarterly data. Local unemployment was considerably lower than the state and national rates of 6.3 and 8.1 percent, respectively.

The number of unemployed residents, 5,750, was 11.2 percent lower than in 1Q12, when there were 6,477 unemployed residents.

The housing market shows the number of single-family building permits jumped 37.2 percent over the corresponding quarter of 2012, with 214 permits issued in the recent quarter compared to 156 in 1Q12. Total sales volume rose 12.4 percent over 1Q12. Commercial building permits also increased by 37 percent over the corresponding quarter last year.

According to STEDF, these data suggest a loosening of lending markets combined with entrepreneurship, business expansion and increased consumer confidence.

Housing unit sales rose 10.7 percent in quarter-over-quarter comparisons, and sales volume rose 12.4 percent with an average sale price 1.5 percent higher than in 1Q12; $195,735 compared with $192,826. According to STEDF, these indicators, combined with the uptick in single-family building permits, suggest an increase in housing demand. Similarly, professional- or managerial-quality apartment rent increased 1.4 percent.

Vehicle sales in dollar value rose 17.4 percent from 1Q12, suggesting an increase in consumer confidence and access to financing. According to the report, the slump in vehicle sales in recent years can be attributed in part to car-buyers being on a similar or identical buying cycle, since so many families purchased new automobiles following Hurricane Katrina. As that cyclical behavior slowly rediversifies, a long-term stabilization of this sector may be anticipated.

There were 665 new incorporations launched in St. Tammany Parish in 1Q13, down 1.9 percent over the corresponding quarter of 2012.

The report indicated that while previous analyses have suggested people were launching their own businesses to supplement income and offset unemployment worries, current trends, taken as a whole, tend to suggest there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit — for any number of possible reasons — that keeps the local economy growing and diversifying.

STEDF is the lead economic development organization for St. Tammany Parish. The organization is charged with attracting new business and employment opportunities to St. Tammany Parish.

The organization seeks to improve the quality of life in the parish by strengthening and supporting the business climate in the area. For information, visit www.stedf.org.

From Advocate reports