What Is the Biggest Challenge to Local Business?

[The article by Mike Dunn, about our recent Chamber membership survey, originally appeared in The Sheridan Press, April 16, 2015.]

Survey ChecklistFinding and retaining dependable employees was listed as the greatest challenge among area businesses, according to a recent Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce membership survey.

The survey received more than 140 responses from a variety of businesses in Sheridan County.

Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dixie Johnson attributes a portion of the problem with retention to the housing market. “We have some professional engineering companies and others in manufacturing and niche manufacturing industries that have said we can get the employees, we are competitive as far as wages, etc.,” Johnson said. “But when they get here, the challenge is for them to be able to find affordable housing.” More specifically, rental properties are in low supply – causing the Sheridan properties to boast one of the highest prices in the region.

To combat the retention problem, the Chamber will continue to work alongside the county and city officials, as well as private business developers, to increase housing options or transform existing properties into affordable housing.

Marketing and communications were also at the top of the list of challenges in the survey. Several comments centered around owners having time to promote and market their business. Johnson said the lack of personnel makes it difficult for small businesses with one to five employees to find time to market themselves.

“A bunch of the challenges these small businesses are facing are the time constraints and the ability to be in your business and working on your business and having time to get more engaged with the Chamber and network,” Johnson said. “It’s tough for them to be at everything because sometimes they need to be in their business as well,” she added.

Business growth and competing with larger companies online are also listed as challenges local companies are facing.

Among the Chamber benefits, local businesses found the Member to Member newsletter and the Chamber Online newsletter to be the most helpful.

The results of the survey were welcomed by Johnson and members of the Sheridan County Chamber. They plan to take the feedback from the survey and incorporate it into their committee work and other efforts.

The Chamber of Commerce is planning a small-business conference this fall geared toward addressing some of the issues identified in the survey. The conference, call Ignite Your Business Sheridan, will provide training to those who need it. “We are using the information that people want and need in their business and pulling that together in a one-day, small-business conference in the community, for the community,” Johnson said. “It’s going to use this information to bring in trainers and speakers so that businesses can attend portions of that conference, but it won’t b a commitment.”

More details on the conference will be released at a later date.

 

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