Lakeport Business Walk Program
The intent of the program is to reassure businesses of the City’s commitment of support and to gather information about concerns and issues that pose barriers to their success. The businesses surveyed included retail, business and personal services, motor/transport, food and beverage, lodging, nonprofit agencies and other categories.
Last fall, 16 teams of City staff, LEDAC members and community volunteers, totaling 29 individuals, surveyed 115 businesses in 16 areas of the city. Findings from the visits and the surveys were presented to the City Council this spring.
The City’s Economic Development Strategic Plan identified annual in-person visits as an important element in the support and retention of existing local businesses. Conducted annually, the walks were put on hold during the Covid pandemic and were resumed to engage with the business community.
The greatest challenges to the businesses were identified as lack of qualified staff, issues associated with homelessness, theft and shoplifting, and concerns regarding parking, streets and paving.
Observations from the personal contacts noted that established businesses were bouncing back more quickly from the Covid pandemic than were newer businesses; succession planning was often cited as a challenge when family or associates are not interested in assuming responsibility when an owner is ready to retire. Concerns about the homeless population loitering and intimidating customers were expressed to teams covering the downtown areas.
Parking problems have declined in importance since the last survey in 2019, possibly due to reductions in traffic during the pandemic and to the recent introduction of two-hour parking limits with enforcement. Concerns about paving and sidewalks on South Main Street will be addressed in the coming months with grant funds received by the City.
Owners and managers were asked to identify what they enjoy the most about operating a business in Lakeport with a strong majority responding they like the community, the people, their customers, the small town environment, and their location. Over two-thirds of the businesses have been in operation for over five years.
Challenges identified in 2022 were similar to those noted in 2019, pre-pandemic: 1) lack of qualified staff; 2) government regulations; 3) lack of business; and 4) competition from other businesses and other areas. Over seventy percent of the businesses anticipate making no changes in the next three years, while another twenty percent are considering expansion in their current location.
The teams learned that, overall, businesses in Lakeport rate the city as “a great environment for business life,” consider it “laid back, friendly, cooperative, and clean,” and see opportunities for growth through community interaction and events.
The teams distributed printed materials about the City’s business loan program, opportunities for employment, and the Guide to Doing Business in Lakeport brochure, also available online at
The Business Walk program is scheduled for this fall. Teams will be recruited and survey questions will be reviewed. The process begins with an orientation session and luncheon hosted by the City and another luncheon at the conclusion, with an opportunity for discussion and input before the survey results are compiled and reported to the City Council. The community is informed of the program through news releases and the City’s website and social media platforms.
Inquiries about the Business Walk activities may be directed to Kevin Ingram, City Manager, email@example.com, (707) 263-5615 ext. 104.