Stanislaus County employers are looking to grow according to data from the Stanislaus Business Alliance’s first annual Local Industry report.
Seventy-six percent of the nearly 200 firms surveyed indicated that they had plans to expand, which is 22 percent higher than the national average of respondents for the same survey. This in turn could mean 1,972 additional jobs added to the economy and an investment of $185,349,000.
The Alliance’s interest in administering a synchronistic survey, something that is employed by economic development organizations across the United States, stems from a desire to further understand the climate of the local business community.
“First and foremost we want to build relationships of trust with our employers because we want them to call on us for services and recognize us as an organization that can help,” explained Stanislaus Business Alliance CEO David White.
The Alliance is a private-public workforce development organization dedicated to assisting businesses with hiring and individuals in pursuit of jobs. Within the Alliance are several key components, including: Corporate Relocation, Business Assistance, Small Business Development Center, Business Resource Center, Enterprise Zone Assistance, Education Foundation and the Alliance Worknet.
Businesses from nine communities participated in the survey including Ceres, Hughson, Modesto, Newman, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Turlock and Waterford. The survey, aimed in part at ascertaining the successes and challenges of each business, revealed a relatively optimistic image of the Stanislaus County. Eighty-three percent of businesses surveyed recently introduced new products onto the market, compared with the national average of 78 percent. Seventy-six percent also have plans to introduce new products locally and nationwide.
Businesses answered questions during the confidential survey that pertained to topics such as their sales, employment projections and their interest in research and development. This in turn allowed the Alliance to ascertain the collective predicted growth for the region. A plot graph with four different quadrants was created to illustrate this information as businesses were plotted as either both low value and low growth; low value and high growth; high value and low growth; or high value and high growth. Of the 193 surveyed, 105 businesses identified as high value and high growth.
“It indicates that we’re kind of ahead of the game when you compare our region to other regions across the country that uses the same survey,” said White.
While qualities such as the location and low cost of doing business are considered strengths for Stanislaus County as a place to do business, employers are facing other struggles such as in recruiting skilled and unskilled workers. Skilled positions are those that require technical or professional backgrounds and jobs such as entry-level warehouse production positions are considered to be unskilled.
White said there are a number of reasons why employers are struggling to find the ideal employee, and it is not due to a lack of people. Filling the positions may be difficult due to a lack of qualified applicants for skilled or unskilled positions as the minimum requirement is often a GED or high school diploma. Language barriers and not being able to pass necessary measures, like drug tests, can also impede employers’ abilities to find qualified employees.
“There is not one simple answer,” he said.
While the Local Industry survey aims to dig deeper into some of the complex issues faced by employers in the Stanislaus County, the Alliance’s job is not over said White. The next step is to continue to develop companies’ successes in order to retain them locally while also addressing employers’ challenges so as to improve the local business environment.
“Doing the survey is only part of it. It’s what we do after the survey where we can really extend our services that matters,” said White.
For more information about the survey or the Stanislaus Business Alliance services, visit stanalliance.com or call 209.567.4985.