The Polk County Economic Development Corporation(PCEDC) is committed to helping people and businesses shape their passions, enterprises, and visions into successes. These successes are what make Polk County a place with great opportunity and potential for all of us. In 2017, we saw new manufacturers move into our neighborhoods. Two examples, Kage Innovation in Osceola and Linemods in Balsam Lake, are offering employment opportunities and are becoming purchasers of goods and services from our existing local businesses. Their product lines, along with those of our other great manufacturers, are growing Polk County’s reputation for providing innovative and quality products.
Other businesses may not be as big, but they are major contributors to the livelihood of our County’s cities, villages, and towns. These businesses include daycare centers, health and fitness facilities, landscape and construction companies, restaurants and bars, grocery stores and artists, to name a few. The Polk County Economic Development Corporation has supported these ventures in 2017 because of their ability to create jobs, raise local tax revenue, and enhance the livability of our communities.
It is the small businesses that help make Polk County unique. The friendly encounters in the T-shirt shop, hardware store, or café is what makes lasting impressions and memories for the many tourists and locals alike. And a high percentage of every dollar spent in our businesses is returned to the local economy by the employer or employees who live here. Local businesses are also huge contributors of time and money to worthy causes that help the needy or create memorable experiences during our many festivals and events. It is for reasons such as these that the Polk County Economic Development Corporation supports things like loans, job training, worker recruitment, and high-speed internet access to our local businesses.
Our local small businesses generate a high percentage of jobs. In 2016, for example, almost 1500 jobs were created in Polk County by businesses employing less than 10 people. Businesses employing 10-99 people created 1300 jobs. Of course, there were also job losses and business closings that offset some of these gains. Not all businesses succeed and grow. Some fail and some downsize. This is part of our American economy. The churn of winners and losers can be painful, but also rewarding in the long run as efficiency, service, and quality bubbles to the top. The key is to generate more winners than losers.
The good news is that Polk County is succeeding. The most recent data for 2016 demonstrated more job gains than losses with both small employers and larger ones. Businesses with less than 10 employees had a net gain of 30 jobs while businesses employing 10-99 people had a net gain of 590 jobs. And more jobs are expected in 2018. Hence, a priority for us at the PCEDC, is to help retain, recruit, and train more workers to meet the rising demand of jobs and career opportunities. More will be written on this topic in future blogs.
As 2017 comes to an end, we want to recognize all of our businesses in Polk County. They are all important. We at the Polk County EDC will do all that we can to support our current business enterprises and the owners and workers who keep them running. As consumers, you can do your part by shopping locally and supporting the causes of our local employers. Our communities, schools, and citizens all benefit when our businesses succeed.