Colorado Springs’ small businesses are frustrated over the lack of available capital and some say a lack of qualified workers is a problem too.
The issues were identified in the 2011 Pikes Peak Region Business Climate Survey, released today by Summit Economics.
Overall, the Colorado Springs business climate is about the same or worse than two years ago, according to survey of nearly 400 businesses. About 40 percent of businesses surveyed said the business climate is the same as 2009, and about 32 percent said the climate is worse. Sixteen percent of businesses said the business climate is better.
The survey showed that levels of satisfaction in the overall business climate have not changed significantly since 2009, said Tom Binnings, senior partner at Summit.
In 2009 results showed that 77 percent of businesses described the business climate as worse, or much worse, than in 2007.
“I think it reflects a very slow recovery that the economy is going through,” Binnings said.
The survey attempts to answer how the business community, including nonprofits, perceives the current business climate, including barriers to their success. More than twice the number of people answered the survey this year than in 2009. Binnings said rather than hire an outside agency to conduct the survey like last time, it was distributed though organizations, including the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., the Home Builders Association and Pikes Peak Sustainable Business Network.
Nearly 60 percent of respondents have between one and nine employees and 7.8 percent of respondents have between 100 and 499 employees. And, they see federal regulations as more burdensome than county and city regulations.
The most surprising issue, Binnings said, is that 7 percent of local businesses said lack of qualified workers is the most significant challenge to future growth and survival of their business. That’s up from 2009, when just 2 percent said lack of qualified workers is a barrier to business survival.
“That mirrors the national surveys,” Binnings said. “In Colorado Springs, we are having that problem. Businesses are saying, ‘I can’t find qualified people with technical skills.’ ”
It’s a major shift from two years ago when the business community listed customers, taxes and government as their top barriers.
Now, businesses are saying the community needs more economic development. Two years ago, businesses were more frustrated with government and wanted government to solve the problems, Binnings said. Now, businesses are saying they are going to quit waiting for government and work local on issues, like electing a strong mayor.
Businesses say the city and county could work on making the application process for building permits and land use approvals less cumbersome and less expensive.
“There is an opportunity to improve that process,” Binnings said.