Small business owners rebounding from the pandemic

COLUMBUS – NFIB, the state’s leading small business association, recently completed a survey of 22,000 members across the state of Ohio on their outlook on Ohio’s economy as the state continues to recover from the pandemic. Ohio’s economy is recovering from a pandemic that seemingly touched every fabric of society. As the heart of their local communities, small business owners are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Throughout Ohio, small business owners are emerging from an unprecedented challenging seventeen months, and the encouraging news is about half of our survey respondents tell us they are seeing their sales at or above pre-pandemic levels,” said Roger Geiger, executive director for NFIB in Ohio. “Combined with an additional quarter seeing sales off by less than 25 percent, means we have over three quarters in a better place, but we still need to be concerned for that remaining 20 percent.”

As NFIB travels the state, the members’ main concern continues to be finding workers, both skilled and entry-level. This lack of employees is a contributing factor in their ability to rebound with 77 percent indicating that it was negatively impacting their sales. “All Across the state good-paying jobs are going unfulfilled,” Geiger said.

NFIB’s monthly jobs report found 49% of owners had job openings that could not be filled, a 48-year record high. Owners’ plans to fill these open positions remain at record high levels. A seasonally-adjusted net of 27% are planning to create new jobs in the next three months.

Several other key findings in the Ohio NFIB survey include:

Nearly 80 percent are forecasting to be able to continue operating under the current economic conditions.

Nearly two-thirds are seeing an impact on their ability to expand and help grow the economy due to the lack of staffing.

Half of those responding had employees collect unemployment in 2020, with over 50 percent saying they had an employee experience a fraudulent claim in their name.

Only 16 percent indicate they could use additional financial assistance to maintain their business, while the vast majority of small businesses report they are not anticipating the need for additional government funds.

Finally, as small business owners are struggling to find employees, less than 20 percent plan to ask employees if they are vaccinated.

Listed below are just a few comments left by entrepreneurs highlighting their economic views:

“Our greatest difficulty is with the uncertainty of restart of tradeshows, our primary industry, due to the Delta variant combined with low vaccination rates in many areas of the country making it hard to determine our upcoming workload which impacts hiring needs. Government relief programs, especially the second round of PPP and ERTC have been an exceptional help. We also appreciate the Ohio BWC rebates, which came at a much-needed time! But our industry needs to be back on track in 2022 for us to succeed long term,” said Kelli Glasser, owner of Exhibit Concepts, Inc. in Vandalia, Ohio.

“Our 52-year-old manufacturing company lost 100% of orders for custom concession trailers through the nationwide shutdown. To survive and keep employees working we invented a high volume all touchless hand washing station based on our prior knowledge in high volume venues and created a solution to fill an ongoing need. Through our innovation and help from the PPP loans we were able to make it through a dire time, and are fulfilling a need with our new product, which allowed us to retain all our employees,” said Holly Swartz, owner of Personal Protected, in New Middletown, Ohio.

“Ohio small business owners will continue to do their part in moving the state’s economy forward and employing those in their community. Small businesses historically have created two out of three net new jobs. The resiliency of Ohio’s entrepreneurs is nothing short of amazing. I encourage everyone to continue to be very strong supporters of the independently owned businesses of their communities,” said Roger Geiger, executive director for NFIB in Ohio.