|A construction worker drives nails at the new Utah Division of Natural Resources building on Carbonville Road. Construction makes up a major segment of the area's businesses. According to surveys, owners and managers of the construction companies project significant growth for the next year.|
According to surveys conducted in the last year by the Business Expansion and Retention Program, many businesses expect the local economy to grow despite a downturn in the national ecomomy.
The BEAR program was set up two years ago to provide technical assistance to individual businesses.
The program focuses on identifying trends and issues in the business community, targeting resources where they will do the most good in local economy and providing a public relation advocate for the local business base.
The BEAR survey asked detailed questions of owners and managers of nearly 400 businesses in the Carbon and Emery counties.
With home-based establishments included, there are an estimated 1,600 businesses operating in the area.
"We still have a long way to go to get all the businesses interviewed. But this is a good start and has shown some significant trends," said Delynn Fielding, the economic development director for Carbon County. "When we printed out all the reports the software could generate on what we have we had quite a large stack of paper. Now we have to drill down into those reports and find out what is pertinent and what that date means in terms of growth, employment and many other economic factors."
The BEAR surveys show that 70 percent of the local companies report recent growth and 44 percent project an expansion rate of more than 10 percent in the coming year.
Only four percent of the companies said they thought product and serives sales would decline in the next year.
One eye-opening aspects of the report was the use of e-commerce, noted Fielding.
The majority of companies use some type of e-commerce in the businesses. Examples include using e-mail, having Websites, buying or selling products and conducting surveys.
Only 16 percent of the companies surveyed indicated that they did not use e-commercel.
Eastern Utah's economic baseThe interpretation of the BEAR surveys conducted to date in the Castle Valley region indicates the following:
Large industrial companies are becoming a less significant portion of the overall business community.
The area is predominately characterized by retail and service based industries - 45 percent.
The community, as a whole, is relatively business diversified.
Of the companies surveyed, 329 or 92 percent have headquarters in Utah. But while most companies have a Utah orientation, few are headquartered locally.
"It appears, when you tie these figures to growth and decline in businesses, that the companies that have having no growth or declines are the ones that are not using any kind of e-commerce," said Fielding.
Tied to that. 79 percent of companies report they have some kind of high speed connection (DSL or better) with which to do business.
Businesses reported no real problems with getting high speed Internet access from providers.
The highest growth sector in the area (with significant numbers of companies involved) is the construction business.
Nine of 17 companies in the construction trades projected a 25 percent increase in business.
In the next year, the construction companies, as a whole, expected to hire 110 more people.
The BEAR report indicated that manufacturing of all types of goods anticipate having to hire 104 and the retail businesses in the area will want to hire 160 people.
But the local unemployment rate remains low and many of the positions that will need filling are skilled jobs.
There continues to be a growing demand for workers with skills and a decline in employment for people with few skills.
"We have one retail outlet in the area that is authorized to have many more people than they have on the payroll, but they can't find the people to hire," said Fielding. "We have a problem here we haven't had for a very long time."
BEAR program consultants are going to keep interviewing businesses with the end in mind to have data about every business in the area on the books.
When that happens, the program will be able to have a much truer picture of what it takes to grow local businesses and to project trends.