2012 was 'good' for local businessesFor many area businesses, 2012 brought tangible evidence that the recession is finally moving behind them.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
For many area businesses, 2012 brought tangible evidence that the recession is finally moving behind them.
“2012 was a good year,” Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce President Patty Brown said.
“I haven’t heard many negatives,” echoed Red Wing Downtown Main Street program coordinator Tracy Hardyman.
Both business organizations report increased membership for the past year. The chamber added 35 new businesses in 2012; membership currently sits at about 315, Brown said.
“We are ahead. We’re on the increase,” she said.
Downtown Main Street currently boasts about 135 members, up about three or four from last year, Hardyman said.
“We filled a few storefronts this year. That’s excellent,” Hardyman said.
New businesses opening is a trend the entire state of Minnesota seems to be experiencing. According to the Secretary of State office, 2012 could set an all-time record for the number of new business filings. So far, 56,046 new businesses have filed in 2012. That’s more than 8,500 more than last year at this time.
“November was another banner month in a year of strong new business filings," Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said in a statement. “We appear to be on track to reach a near record number by the end of 2012.”
But it wasn’t only new businesses that had a good year. Many established businesses reported that sales were up as well.
“I’ve heard a couple people say that this is the best year they’ve had in a while,” Hardyman said.
Brown said many chamber members recorded slight increases in sales for 2012.
“They weren’t blowing the socks off anything, but they definitely increased sales,” Brown said. “In previous years, they were happy to stay flat.”
Employment seemed to be on the rise as well. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reports an October unemployment rate of 4.7 percent for Goodhue County. That’s down from the 5 percent unemployment rate recorded in October 2011.
Brown said that many Chamber businesses did add positions within the past year.
“We had lots of companies contact us regarding finding employees,” she said.
In 2011, she said most of the businesses who were hiring were in the manufacturing sector. This year, Brown said businesses in nearly every sector were looking to add employees.
“They were expanding and needing more employees,” she said. “Not huge increases, one or two people here or there.”
Both Hardyman and Brown said they’re hoping for an even better 2013. Downtown Main Street recently expanded its borders, and Hardyman said the organization is looking to take that opportunity to increase its membership and hold more events.
“We have a bunch of new people and a new area to focus on,” she said.
However, Brown said area businesses also have their eyes on the federal tax restructuring process and the effects it could have on the local business community.
“We’re definitely concerned about what the new tax structure will mean to our business community,” she said.