Columbia small businesses optimistic for the future
COLUMBIA - Small businesses are still on the slow road to recovery after a recession six years ago. But one Columbia business owner said things are looking up.
"I'm very optimistic. My son just graduated from culinary school so I'm very optimistic that he's going to open up his own restaurant," said Kim Perry, owner of Ms. Kim's Fish and Chicken Shack. "Matter of fact, in this plaza we've got a new bakery going in, we've got a gentleman with a food truck going in, we've got a dress store that's going in so I see more businesses coming in."
Perry's restaurant isn't the only business showing signs of optimism. Wells Fargo and Gallup released a report earlier this year with some good news: small business optimism climbed to a post-recession high at the beginning of 2015.
Although the number has dipped since January, businesses like Ms. Kim's Fish and Chicken Shack are still feeling positive.
"We are seeing that a lot in Columbia and nationwide as I talk to my colleagues around the nation in other chambers, they're seeing the same trend," said Matt McCormick, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.
While the overall outlook for businesses is good, Wells Fargo and Gallup did mention small businesses are still struggling with hiring.
The most recent survey showed 78% of businesses are not hiring. Business owners report the inability to provide competitive benefits, full-time status, and perks like laptops makes hiring difficult.
Some business owners, like Perry, are holding off on hiring for another reason.
"I had 35 plus employees at the big location. I loved them all, I enjoyed them, but I like my small guys," Perry said. "I do, I like that it's more personal."
In addition to creating a family-like feel at the restaurant, Perry said keeping a smaller amount of employees helps keep costs down.
And McCormick said he's noticed the same trend as small businesses aren't just hiring to hire.
"What we are seeing is people being more responsible with their financial and budgetary process as they're putting their budget together for their business and doing smart growth," McCormick said. "If you will, they're growing in a smart way."
For small businesses in Columbia looking to boost hiring or to grow in other ways, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce partners with groups to offer a variety of resources.
McCormick encourages businesses to participate in programs like SCORE, where former CEOs and other executives mentor start-ups and small businesses for free.
As for Ms. Kim's Fish and Chicken Shack, Perry said she's focused on both stability and growth right now.
"I'm very optimistic. I'm not saying because of the way things were. I'm saying the way things are going to be," Perry said. "That's how I set myself because I still have dreams and plans."
For the Wells Fargo and Gallup 2015 small business index infographics, follow these links: