Government and Small Business & Startups

Small businesses help state

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LANSING — Michigan’s small businesses are expecting to hire more employees and increase wages in the upcoming months, according to the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Almost 30 percent of the 600 small businesses surveyed by the association in January said they hired more workers in the past six months, and 33 percent intend to hire more workers in the next six months. Nearly 40 percent of the surveyed businesses said they planned to raise wages.

In 2014, there were 216,956 businesses in Michigan with less than 50 employees. Last year these businesses hired 20,526 new employees, according to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiative.

“Small businesses make crucial contributions to economic growth by providing jobs, local business activity and revitalization of our cities,” Michael Rogers, Small Business Association of Michigan’s vice president of communications, said in an email.

As the state’s economy improves and small businesses are making more hires, they are also having greater difficulty hiring qualified employees, Rogers said. In February, the association developed a new program to help small businesses find the employees they need.

The Talent Exchange, an online portal that connects small businesses to thousands of potential employees, matches companies with applicants based on skills, interests and requirements. The portal’s purpose is to save business owners time and money, according to Rogers.

These small businesses and others across the U.S. are contributing to the country’s total increase in employment.

In 2014, businesses with less than 50 employees were responsible for 46 percent of the country’s increase in jobs, contributing 1.26 million jobs to the total 2.73 million gained that year, according to February’s ADP National Employment Report.

Small businesses can also receive assistance from the Michigan Small Business Development Center.

The center has 11 regional offices that help entrepreneurs solve problems related to planning, starting, and growing a small business, according to Annie Olds, regional director at the northwest region’s center in Traverse City.

“Small businesses are what drive our economy in this region, and we are seeing a huge turnaround with the businesses we are working with — they are hiring and growing,” Olds said.

Olds’ regional development center assisted 286 small business clients in 10 counties last year, and 55 percent were food- and agriculture-related businesses.

This year, the center is offering a class for potential business owners looking to start a food or agriculture business. The 10-week program is co-taught by the center’s staff and Michigan State University Product Center faculty. Participants end the class with a formal business plan to start their future company.

The last time the center held this class in 2012, half the students began their companies and are still in business today, Olds said.

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