SAVANNAH — Armstrong State University’s Department of Economics has released the 2016 Armstrong State of Small Business Report, which offers insight into Savannah’s small business sector. Dozens of local businesses were recently surveyed about business size, financing and marketing efforts, as well as employment and revenue changes. Participants were also questioned about concerns and how area development and public officials can support the small business sector.
"This project aims to inform educators, policymakers and small business owners," notes Dr. Dennis Barber, director of the Small Business Institute and assistant professor of Economics at Armstrong. "The Small Business Institute is the link between business, education and community."
The survey reveals that the leading business models in the Savannah area today are Partnerships/Limited Liability Companies at 31.8 percent, followed by S-Corporations at 22.7 percent. Tied for third are Sole Proprietorships and C-Corporations, which hold at 19.7 percent.
The majority of local businesses have fewer than six full-time or part-time employees, and financing is largely secured via small local and regional banks. National or international banks finance 16 percent of the surveyed entities while 12.4 percent are funded through personal loans.
Data shows that 56 percent of the business market is using Facebook as a marketing tool. Referrals and community events are also major sources of marketing, at 46 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Over the last 12 months, there were no large employment changes, as 28.1 percent of local small businesses saw an increase and 7.8 percent experienced a decrease. Business revenues were up by an average of $72,000 for almost half of the businesses surveyed during the last 12 months, compared to the previous year.
Taxes, authoritative and prohibitive regulations and policies were listed as important issues among the small business community. Also, crime reduction, decreased red tape and improvements to education were noted as top concerns that need to be addressed by local leaders.
The Small Business Institute at Armstrong State University serves the small business community in Savannah and Chatham County. The primary mechanism for service is a faculty-led, three-month student-consulting project, which allows Business Economics majors to participate in a small-business consulting course and to deliver an in-depth consulting report to local small businesses.
Dr. Dennis Barber has been affiliated with the national chapter of the Small Business Institute since 2011, serving multiple roles on committees and as a member of the editorial review board for the Small Business Institute’s academic journals.