Columbus Chamber survey says small businesses anticipate growth

The results of a recent survey by the Columbus Chamber suggest local small business owners plan to continue growing in the months ahead.

Of the 106 small businesses surveyed, about 75 percent said they plan to add to their staffs in the next year. Further, half those businesses plan to hire between one and five employees.

“Small businesses are a major force in the Columbus region’s economic development, accounting for the majority of companies located here and nearly half of employment in the region,” said Michael Dalby, president and CEO of the Columbus Chamber, in a release. “It’s beneficial to hear directly from these businesses about their challenges and opportunities, so we can better assist them and help them grow.”

Small businesses represent 94 percent of all companies in the region and account for 42 percent of total employment, according to the chamber.

The survey’s respondents said several factors positively impacted the success they have experienced locally, including a central location/market access (38.2 percent), a stable economy (32.4 percent), and the low cost of doing business (28 percent).

Cost and availability of health insurance are the primary challenges cited by the companies surveyed, with 31.7 percent of respondents ranking it “most impactful.” Local and national economic factors followed close behind, ranking 28.8 and 27.2 percent, respectively.

Although small businesses are generally classified as those with fewer than 500 full-time employees, about 80 percent of the businesses surveyed have fewer than 50 employees; 30 percent have staffs of four or less.

Each year, the chamber staff conducts more than 1,000 one-on-one meetings with businesses —most of which have 500 or fewer employees— and the opportunities and concerns that came to light during those discussions mirror the results of the survey, according to the chamber.