COLUMBUS, INDIANA (Feb. 20, 2015) – Members of the Columbus Economic Development Board (EDB) are making plans for organization’s third annual Existing Business Survey. Among company executives surveyed in 2014, local attitudes about the community and overall business prospects were very positive, and the majority of surveyed firms were planning investment and job creation activities over the next three years. Following national trends, the top concerns of local employers, however, were focused on workforce availability and skills. With this year’s survey, EDB leaders will again explore executive opinions on business climate, expansion plans, workforce & public service satisfaction, and other key drivers of business success.
“Our existing primary employers serve as the bedrock of our economy,” said Jason Hester, Columbus EDB executive director, “and it is very important that we understand their needs and do what we can to support their continued success.”
During the first two rounds of survey work, EDB volunteers conducted 63 hour-long, in-depth surveys, using the acclaimed Synchronist survey tool. Each survey has been with a different company, and combined, those companies employed 22,230 persons, or about 43% of all local employment.
According to the findings of the 2013 and 2014 surveys, local executives view Columbus and Bartholomew County as a good place to live, work, and conduct business. When compared to key performance indicators of North American companies who participated in an identical Synchronist business survey, Columbus and Bartholomew County companies are also experiencing better sales growth and are investing more in R&D and new product development, which are positive indicators according to Hester.
In addition to identifying the specific needs of individual companies, the survey is also designed help the local economic development organization identify important trends, both positive and negative, that can then help inform policy makers and community leaders. While individual company responses are kept confidential, sometimes a company will share a specific opportunity or need that the EDB team is able to act upon or forward with permission to another office, says Hester. Past examples have included providing feedback to local utility companies, making introductions to training providers, and identifying expansion opportunities that later led to the creation of jobs and state or local incentives being offered. One of those companies was local firm CyberMetrix.
“The Business Survey process gave us the opportunity to talk about our needs and growth plans,” said Christine Mullholand, CEO of CyberMetrix. “The Economic Development Board staff then helped us successfully pursue local tax abatement and Indiana tax credits, which allowed us to expand into our new facility and create over 20 new full-time jobs.”
Approximately 52% of the companies surveyed during the first two years were manufacturers. The balance of firms included engineering, Transportation/Distribution/Logistics (TDL), finance/banking, education, and various service providers. Surveyed companies have also ranged in size from employing a dozen persons to several hundred, with approximately one-third employing fewer than 50 persons, another third between 50 and 249, and the remaining third more than 250.
Zac Nelson of Old National Bank is the EDB’s 2015 business retention and expansion committee chairperson and indicates that the 2015 survey round will begin as soon as this week.
“We’re making appointments for our two-person survey teams at this time, and we look forward to surveying 25 or more companies in the next 60 days,” said Nelson.
Companies who would like to be surveyed, are asked to contact the Columbus Economic Development Board. More information on the survey is available at ColumbusIN.org.
Source: Columbus Economic Development Board