NAPA -- During the first four months of 2014, the volume of business licenses approved by the city of Napa totaled 403 -- averaging more than 100 new ventures per month.
"The rise in business licenses is an overall reflection of the steady rise in economic activity," said Jennifer La Liberte, economic development manager for the city of Napa.
The city said it does not keep records of monthly or annual business license activity, but said the first-quarter spike was highly unusual. The increased activity is spilling over into other areas, officials said.
"Everything is picking up, planning applications, building permits, etc.," according to Robin Klingbeil, economic development project coordinator. "Our inquiry log is full today, compared to 2009 and 2010 when the economy was flat. Now we're really busy."
New retail and restaurant activity also contributed to the volume, along with home-based businesses, office and light industrial firms.
January and February saw 59 and 53 business licenses issued respectively, followed by a significant spike of 202 in March and 89 in April.
"Residential activity is more brisk than usual, including new construction as well as renovation and remodeling," Ms. La Liberte added.
Tracy Thompson, with the city Finance Department, has day-to-day responsibility for handling business licenses.
"The sudden surge in applications overwhelmed our planning and permit groups at first, creating a processing bottleneck, but we are quickly catching up with demand," she said.
Some 56 of the 91 business licenses issued in April were for home-based enterprises, or 62 percent of the total. The remaining 38 percent -- 44 businesses -- were for traditional brick-and-mortar locations.
Building permits in Napa during the first four months of 2014 totaled 1,244, up by 78 over the same 2013 time frame when the total was 1,166.
The largest increases in quantities of permits issued are due to remodels both in commercial and residential and the smaller projects that fall within these categories, such as foundation work, furnaces, garage/carports, grading, residential additions, reroofs, signs, and solar panels.
The total value of all 2014 building permit projects was $24.4 million, compared to $30.6 million in 2013.
There are four new commercial building projects that received permits so far this year, valued at $1.3 million, along with 67 commercial remodeling projects worth $7.1 million.
In the residential sector, there were 32 categories of permits granted: 162 remodeling projects ($2.9 million), 142 residential reroofing projects ($1.2 million), 141 furnace and air-conditioning projects ($1.1 million), 22 housing additions ($1.1 million) and 69 solar panel installations ($1.4 million).Construction tops business licenses
As expected during a recovery, the largest business license category in April was construction: the Centimark Corporation (roofing sales and contracts), Curtis Shaw Construction (general contractor), Elite Concrete Construction, Lander Engineering (civil engineering consulting), Quality Telecom, Sunpower Corporation Systems (solar construction and installation), and Audio Visual Engineering as well as Expressions General Remodel.
Other companies in this group included Dewyer Contracting, Lances Painting (residential homes), Play Well Technologies (recreation contractor) and Sean Towey (unique decorative painting).
Real estate and commercial property firms came in second with seven businesses: Complete Property Management, four commercial property rental firms -- Consolidated Industries, Inc., Hansen Properties LP, Hazel Myers Investments LLC, Leonardo Commercial Properties -- the North Bay Association of Realtors, and Paladini Properties.New wine, tourism businesses