Santa Ynez Valley to see economic boost this year
BY AMY ASMAN
The Santa Ynez Valley is expected to economically outperform the rest of Santa Barbara County this summer, according to a report released by the UCSB Economic Forecast Project at the beginning of the month.
Overall, the valley's economy is predicted to grow at or above 3 percent through 2009.
Tourism is expected to create the most economic growth, along with the Chumash Casino and the area's budding wine industry, the report said.
Besides contributing to tourism, the wine industry is also expected to boost agricultural output, nondurable manufacturing, and support industries, according to a summary statement from the project's executive director, Bill Watkins.
Also, the weak state of the American dollar is expected to bring in more foreign tourists. Increasingly high gasoline prices will likely prompt more people to take local day trips to Solvang or Buellton, for example, rather than more faraway destinations.
The Santa Ynez Valley real estate market is also expected to remain strong, in contrast to other local markets burdened with high foreclosure rates.
In 2007, the number of homes sold in the valley dropped from 55 to 27, and the real median price for all homes fell 11.5 percent (roughly $500,000) in Buellton. Solvang saw a 15 percent decline in home sales and the real median price declined by 1.3 percent (about $653,500).
However, in Santa Ynez Township, home sales saw a very slight increase, from 26 to 27 homes, and the real median price rose 6.7 percent to $725,200.
For more information about the UCSB Economic Forecast Project and reports on local areas, visit www.ucsb-efp.com.
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