Wednesday’s Columbus Metropolitan Club forum offered a glimpse at how the central Ohio economy will fare in 2016.
Mike Foley has details.
Regionomics owner Bill LaFayette released his 17th annual economic outlook for the Columbus-area. He expects a growth this year of 2.2 % or about 22,000 jobs - led by education and health care.
“Education and Healthcare is responsible for one of every four net new jobs in central Ohio during this recovery.”
LaFayette expects good numbers from business services and transportation and distribution, but not with Manufacturing or Leisure and Hospitality. He did note two areas of concern, one related to skills gaps.
“Employers tell me that they can’t find people who can interact with effectively with others, who can follow direction, who can be to work on time. Drugs are a definitely problem. One employer in southeastern Ohio told me that he could hire ten more people on the spot if he could find people with the right skills who could pass a drug test.”
LaFayette also expressed concerns about the retail sector in central Ohio, primarily when it comes to small businesses. A December JP Morgan Chase Institute report that included Columbus and 14 metro areas around the country found that large businesses account for less than 1 percent of establishments in those cities but generate 33 percent of observed local consumer commercial spending. Lafayette offered some sobering small business data for central Ohio.
“The most recent stats show us ranking 88th out of the 100 largest metros in the U.S. in the percentage of workers who are self-employed, 85th in the concentration of small businesses and 82nd in our small business birth rate. This is a serious problem. There are a number of things being done. The city has created a small business concierge, Ryan Schick who is in the audience. His role is to help people start and grow businesses. We’ve also got to communicate to consumers and purchasing managers of businesses that purchase decisions are not innocuous. If we patronize local businesses, the money stays in the local economy. If we buy our coffee at Starbucks, the money goes to Seattle. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to shift a lot, but shifting a little helps a lot.”
Residents can find more Columbus resources and information in the small business builder section of the city’s website. The region’s economy overall has recovered well. Since the start of 2010, employment in central Ohio is up nearly 14% while in the U.S it’s up about 10%. The region has 127,000 more jobs now, the best five-year stretch in more than 15 years.