Economy hurting IE car dealers, community

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. It's one of the most telling images in a down economy: auto dealerships with empty lots. Already several dealerships have closed their doors in San Bernardino.

"They are very concerned about this whole auto center virtually going out," said Jack Kennedy, owner of Kennedy Cadillac.

Kennedy says in some ways there's never been a better time to buy a car. The trouble is, people aren't.

"Nobody's making it easy, we're trying hard, I've done everything I possibly can to keep my staff and to keep our chins up, but it's not an easy task," said Kennedy.

But it's not just a problem limited to auto dealerships. There are a lot of those, like Center Chevrolet, now out of business, in San Bernardino. But look next door, and there are other businesses also no longer with open doors.

"Auto dealers don't operate in isolation. They have a payroll, those employees spend their money somewhere that goes back in the economy," said Jim Morris, mayoral chief of staff, San Bernardino.

Jim Morris says there's a trickle-down effect. With many businesses halting their operations, sales tax revenue goes down. That means cuts -- cuts that affect everyone.

"We may look at strategic closure of other types of facilities -- a library, a community center -- to try to save some costs, and so the public's going to see that," said Morris.

At Kennedy Cadillac, they don't know what the future holds.

"We're really trying hard to stay in business, I kid you not," said Kennedy.

The city of San Bernardino is doing all it can to help. The fewer empty parking lots you see, the better.

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