The largest regional business survey ever completed is out and includes the insight of 300 frontline owners and managers across all sectors.
Findings of the Counties-wide Business Retention + Expansion (BR+E) Report were presented to Counties Council by the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office. One highlight is many business owners and senior officials interviewed predict an overall positive business climate in the next year.
Of the companies surveyed, 40% indicated expansion plans that will lead to 349 new jobs. Another 13% said they would be adding product lines, completing process improvements and looking at adding floor space. This translates to an increased need for qualified workers and employee training, the report states. Data was collected from all 10 member municipalities.
“It has been proven that 76-90% of new jobs come from the success of existing businesses,” said United Counties Warden Pat Sayeau. “It makes perfect sense to work with and support the businesses that are already heavily invested in our community and help them create more jobs in the future.”
The Warden said businesses provided a wealth of valuable information pertaining to doing business in Leeds Grenville. “We thank our businesses for their participation,” he said. Over the past 18 months, a combination of 30 volunteers and staff completed the interviews.
“This information will allow the Counties and its municipalities, along with other business support organizations, to review their programs and priorities to ensure they are aligned with existing and future needs of businesses,” the Warden said.
The next step will see the Economic Development Office finalize its strategic areas of focus over five years along with its annual action plan to Counties Council. One of the actions going forward will be to follow-up with businesses who have requested resources and other supports, according to Ann Weir, Manager of the Economic Development Office.
“Working to support business sustainability and growth will continue to be a Counties Economic Development priority. Some of the suggested actions in the BR+E report already have conversations and initiatives underway. A great example is the Pathways to Production program that is addressing entry-level workforce development support for many of our manufacturers throughout the region,” she said.
Businesses were asked over 100 questions that resulted in streams of qualitative and quantitative data. Once completed, the survey data was entered, reviewed and five emerging areas of focus were identified.
These trends include the need for workforce development; business collaborations and support, including business-to-business and municipality-to-business; external marketing; infrastructure improvements; as well as a diverse economy.
When employers were asked what positions or skills they have difficulty recruiting, the top answers were labourers, skilled trades, sales associates, drivers, administrative workers, technicians, cooks, equipment operators and managers/supervisors.
The full Business Retention + Expansion Report can be found at www.investleedsgrenville.com/bre