Outlook holds steady for small business

Filed under: Focus,Print |

The year 2014 will offer small business more of the same, according to two prominent leaders in the Colorado Springs business community.

On a national scale, some regions will perform better economically than others; the El Paso County region is likely to remain stable, said Tom Neppl, incoming board chair of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and president of Springs Fabrication Inc.

“Colorado Springs is still lagging in terms of employment,” Neppl said in the final days of 2013. “I think we’ll see a relatively stable next year.

“As long as we’re reducing unemployment, typically, that’s good for small business.”

Economists in Neppl’s sights have predicted a slight slowdown in 2014.

“Whether that’s true or not, I have no way to predict,” Neppl said. The economists then foresee the economy picking up in 2015 for a number of years.

Manufacturing, “the bright spot in our economy,” is returning from being shipped overseas, he said.

“A lot of work is coming back that was off-shored,” Neppl said. Also, he added the United States has outpaced China in the percentage of growth in manufacturing.

Like Neppl, other business leaders look forward to the benefits brought by the planned City for Champions projects.

“A lot of money will be spent, and that always trickles down,” Neppl said.

Matt Barrett, CEO and executive director of the Southern Colorado Better Business Bureau expects to strengthen his relationships with his member organizations, he said.

“We’ve got some numerical goals,” Barrett said. “We’re really looking to maintain the business we have this year, but we’re looking to engage with them on a deeper level.”

Barrett started his position in May, and he has new staff members.

“We’re really looking to get out and be known better to our community,” he said. The emphasis will be on building relationships in 2014 more so than “building numbers just for the sake of building numbers.”

“I’m hopeful that as our economy grows, it will result in more jobs,” Barrett said. “I have no hard data to support that, just optimism.

“From listening to our membership, I hear mixed results.”

He said he’s consulted with representatives of the same industry, and they report different hiring projections.

“I’ve talked to some that will hire a bunch and some that will not hire any,” Barrett said.

Overall, he concluded, “We’ve all weathered the storm together; now it’s time to climb out of the storm together.

“I expect continued resilience.”