Good news to those of us in the sign making industry: local governments are recognizing the effectiveness of signs in attracting customers to businesses, and are therefor easing up on regulations for signs. Restrictions are being lessened or lifted altogether in order to help direct traffic to businesses that are struggling to survive. Governments are seeing the benefit having signs on the street or banners in the air has on the local economy.

An article in USA Today first called attention to this trend at the beginning of 2009, citing the example of a local business in Alexandria, Virginia. The owner, David Gwathmey, was states regarding his sidewalk sign, "It definitely drives foot traffic. This is a very strong statement and action that supports (the city's) claim to want to support small businesses." He estimates that having the sign on the street may have caused a nearly 20% increase of visitors to his shop on the weekend.

When designing and creating signs for local businesses the regulations set aside by the local government must be considered. Normally the size, number and type of signs in a community are all controlled by the government. This is done in order to preserve the aesthetic feel of the city, and reduce distractions for drivers. Many of the modifications made by local governments are likely to be provisional arrangements, considered only as a boost to the local economy, not as a permanent change to the decor of the city.

However, as sign makers we need to be alert to any changes in local government policies in order to be able to offer our customers the most complete set of products available. In what ways has your local business' sign regulations affected your business? How have you taken full advantage of any provisions made by the government for relaxed sign regulations?