Local Business Owners Feeling Confident, Says HSU’s School of Business
Painting a generally optimistic picture of local businesses, a new report released by Humboldt State’s School of Business and Humboldt County Workforce Development Board (WDB) details how business owners feel about their performance, now and in the near future, and the overall business environment in Humboldt County.
Of the 83 local business owners surveyed, 78 percent expressed moderately high confidence in the overall health and performance of their business, according to the Humboldt Business Confidence Report released in August. That number is projected to rise over the year to 83 percent.
For sales revenue, business owners anticipated a 16 percent increase, a 10 percent rise in their industry, and an 8 percent increase in revenues for Humboldt County.
“We felt there was a need to provide a resource of hard data and survey data so business leaders can make better decisions about different kinds of issues given the context of how things are changing,” said School of Business Chair Hari Singh.
For eight months, he, Jacqueline Debets of WDB, and Denise VandenBos, director of Project Development for HSU’s College of Professional Studies—surveyed dozens of local businesses in the private, government, and non-profit sectors.
The results were not only positive, but also revealed surprising numbers from export-oriented companies whose products and services serve customers beyond the region. In fact, exporting sectors are creating new jobs and are expected to increase wages for its employees.
“The good news is that those export-oriented companies are always the drivers of the whole economy. They’re the ones that buy from local companies,” says Debets. She’s the former executive director of WDB, a government entity that brings together members of the community (private sector, local government, non-profits, labor unions, education, and public agencies) to help meet the needs of local employers and employees.
The report, however, reveals a different story for local businesses.
“There’s not a market for rapid growth because the population here is fairly stable,” says Singh. “It’s not growing by leaps and bounds. For example if another restaurants opens, it’s going to draw customers mostly from other restaurants.”
Other key findings:
—73 percent of non-profit and government sector leaders expressed confidence in the overall health and performance of their organizations.
—Private sector employers most commonly identified as issues a lack of qualified workforce talent and costs of transportation of goods and people in and out of Humboldt County.
—Potential strategies for meeting the challenges of Humboldt County’s isolation include training programs that clearly delineate education and career pathways to high-demand occupations in growing industries; and recruiting professional consultants living in urban areas to work remotely for local companies.