There were 16,411 jobs gained from companies that opened in 2019, Lange said and 17,299 jobs lost from companies that closed -- a total loss of 888. That was offset by a net job gain from existing companies of 1,613, leaving us with a gain of 725 jobs overall.
So what’s the takeaway from all of these statistics?
First of all, entrepreneurship is alive in the region with many new start-ups. The success rate is a challenge -- Lange said there is a 47% survival rate for businesses that opened five years ago. But that’s not unusual with start-ups.
Secondly, our view of economic development and assistance to businesses needs to broaden. Traditionally economic development focuses on the larger employers -- and for good reason. Companies that employ many workers are key to our economy and we want them to continue to be successful.
But given that only 2% of our businesses have more than 100 employees, perhaps our focus also needs to be on those smaller companies. If we can get some of those 80% to move from less than 10 employees, we will gain in the middle and further diversify our economy.
My last takeaway is that the major emphasis of the 7 Rivers Alliance -- growing our workforce -- is still critical. We won’t be able to help any employers -- from the single proprietor looking to add their first employee to the large company looking to add its 3,000th -- if we can’t find them the right person for the job.
Our work on the workforce will continue.