Lake Boasts Year-Round Business Now
"There's so many people who have second homes here now, we call them second locals here because they have a house here and a house somewhere else. And they're here year-round," said Michael Castle, owner of On the Rise bakery. "It used to be just the three or four months in the summer but, as you can see today how busy we were, it's every weekend pretty much year-round now."
And Castle's bakery isn't the only business enjoying year-round success.
"We work with a lot of builders, and the builders are great at helping us to keep our handrails and screen enclosures going in the winter time especially," said Karen Zaborac of American Sun Control, "where 20 years ago when we started, it was a much shorter season and didn't have the growth to keep us going in the winter time that we do now."
In fact, Missouri's Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis reports 12 percent of the lake area's working population are entrepreneurs.
"It's definitely a boom for the local economy," OSEDA Director Bill Elder added. "It's a major source of revenue and support and income for the lake, and it's an area that's been growing and is likely to continue to grow."
OSEDA also reported about 6,000 part-time entrepreneurs in the Lake of the Ozarks region.
Another important trend that OSEDA has reported is the overwhelming number of women who own businesses in the Lake region.
"I would say just looking for unique items, things you don't necessarily see at your big stores," explained one customer, Nancy Stone. "And there are several stores here that I really like."
And a unique shopping experience isn't all local businesses offer.
"When you look at the entrepreneurs here in our area, the industry that is included in that is construction, personal care, sales and management," noted Trisha Creatch, executive director of the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. "We have an ever-growing retail and construction industry here at the lake and those are two of our top entrepreneurial areas."
Creatch added, "We have a workforce that, as far as opportunities within the various industries in the lake area seek additional employees and as we become that year-round market, we have the need for that year-round employee."
Zaborac said, "A lot of it is just perseverance. There were a lot of times when it did not look bright in the American Sun Control future, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other."
Castle explained, "Everything you do is for yourself and you know you're working toward a goal. But you're also on call 24 hours a day and it never ends and even if you're not open, the working process is still going on and the thinking process to get it moving in the right direction."
OSEDA expects the economic outlook to continue to improve for the next several years at the Lake of the Ozarks.