A notable increase in commercial and residential construction permits for the first quarter of 2016 is a leading sign that our local economy is on the upswing. “Positive permit activity is a harbinger of our improving economy,” said Rob Ehrhardt, Volusia County’s Economic Development Director. Permit activity and several other indicators presented at the most recent quarterly economic development briefing hosted by the Volusia County Economic Development Division reinforce a positive economic trend.
Commercial permits showed a 50% increase in Q1 of 2016 compared with Q4 of 2015, rising from 32 to 48. A one-year look-back also shows an 85% increase over Q1 of 2015’s 26 residential permits. Commercial new construction permits for the quarter totaled $107.5 million, with Daytona Beach ranked highest among Volusia County cities at more than $70 million. Noteworthy countywide contributors included:
“The numbers are encouraging,” said Nancy Keefer, President and CEO of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The economy is getting its legs back and as a result, some businesses are willing to make construction decisions that may have been on the shelf for several years. We are very optimistic over recent activity.”
Residential permits are also on the rise, with 437 permits booked in Q1 of 2016, compared to 391 in Q4 of 2015—a 12% increase. The increase is 64% when compared to Q1 of 2015. Residential new construction permits for the quarter totaled $138 million. DeLand topped the list for residential new construction permitting activity for the fourth consecutive quarter with projects valued at more than $29 million.
“We expected a good start to the year for several reasons,” said Sandy Bishop, Executive Director of the Volusia Building Industry Association. “The economy continues to gain strength. First-time homebuyers are getting
jobs and looking at new homes. Many buyers have recuperated from a past foreclosure. With reasonable explanation of extenuating circumstances, recovery from foreclosure can allow for a new home purchase after three years. And we still may be chipping away at pent-up demand that accrued during the past several years.”
“These indicators translate nicely when viewed in terms of value,” says Ehrhardt, noting that the combined value of commercial and residential new construction permit activity for Q1 2016 exceeds $245 million. “That’s nearly a quarter billion dollars in economic activity on the books, which is a considerable catalyst to the future vitality of the Volusia County economy.”
Other indicators also point upward. In 2015, an estimated 105 million visitors visited the Sunshine State, eclipsing the previous high of 98.5 million visitors. Locally, the numbers are equally encouraging, with 9.5 million tourists visiting Volusia County in 2015, a 4% increase over the prior year.
The tourism community’s focused marketing efforts contributed to a 12% increase in 2015 bed-tax revenues, which totaled $9.7 million for the year. In addition, efforts to bring more visitors to the area may positively impact the new and existing homes sales as visitors experience Volusia County’s great quality of life and choose to invest in the area. And of course, visitors consume local products and services, creating additional growth opportunities for local businesses.
Easy access to Volusia County via direct flights between Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) and major airline hubs in New York, Charlotte, and Atlanta also contributes to the numbers. Jay Cassens, Director of Business Development for DAB, said “passenger traffic was up 10% in January, 18% in February, and 11% in March.” Cassens also said that passenger traffic for March 2016 totaled 70,936—the highest monthly total in eight years, when DAB had seven carriers. Today there are three, and efforts to bring additional carriers to the market continue, according to Cassens.