From the Desk of Chamber President Terry Carson
*This is the first post in the new series, "Let's Talk Business" by Van Buren Chamber of Commerce President, Terry Carson. The monthly column will focus on issues related to the Chamber and economic development.*
Small businesses are a driving force in our state’s economy. As of 2016, the Small Business Association (SBA) reported that Arkansas had 481,170 business employees and 244,977 small businesses. This represents 48.5% of total employees and 99.3% of total businesses in the state. While many Fortune 500 companies also call the region home, it is clear that small businesses remain a critical part of industries throughout the state.
SBA estimates there are122,800 male-owned and 75,900 female-owned businesses in Arkansas. Non-minority ownership represents 188,000 small businesses and 36,000 minority-owned. Of the minority-owned enterprises, 20,600 are owned by African-Americans and 8,000 owned by Hispanics.
Starting new businesses in Arkansas is a critical part of economic and community development. Historically, 80% of business growth in Arkansas is from small business. In 2015, 1,893 new businesses were created with 6,168 employees. That same year, 1,765 businesses closed, impacting 4,509 employees. Despite the losses, the state still had a net gain of 128 businesses and 1,659 employees.
Such stats help your Van Buren Chamber of Commerce to better understand the needs of our state and local economy. Our vision is to “promote and enhance quality of life for all citizens in our region” and our mission is to prepare, develop and promote the Van Buren community for economic growth. As we head into 2019, we look forward to the new year with great expectations. Thank you to our members, staff and volunteers for a very successful 2018!
Next month's “Let’s Talk Business” will focus on the City of Van Buren.