The latest existing industry survey conducted by the Iowa City Area Development (ICAD) Group shows a marked increase in average company growth, steady company value and an optimistic employment outlook. The survey, conducted during the first and second quarters of 2011, included employment and other operational data from sixty-five interstate commerce clients in ICAD Group’s five-county service territory.
According to the data, local companies are showing significantly higher growth potential, with no companies at a significant risk for closure. Compared to state level data, local firms show a twenty-percent higher growth score than other Iowa communities while outperforming national norms in the categories of value, risk, satisfaction and growth.
ICAD Group works exclusively with interstate commerce companies, those which produce goods and services locally but sell them outside of the market. The data for this report comes directly from interviews with sixty-five interstate commerce companies in Johnson, Washington, Cedar, Iowa and Muscatine counties. Using the Blane, Canada Synchronist® Business Information System, the growth, risk, value, and satisfaction of each company is measured as well as the perceptions from local interstate commerce leaders.
Joe Raso, ICAD Group President, says his organization uses this survey to help guide workforce and economic development programming. “The success and growth of these companies directly impacts job creation, capital investment and tax revenues in this region,” said Raso. “We’re dedicated to the needs of our clients, which in turn helps enhance our communities and provide results to our investors.”
Seventy percent of the surveyed companies in this most recent cycle indicate they have plans to expand and eighty-nine percent have introduced a new product or service in the last five years. At the time of the interviews, companies had openings for 388 positions and projected more than 1,100 net new jobs in the next three years.
“With increases in market share and sales compared with last year, local companies are considerably more optimistic about their ability to grow and create employment,” added Raso.
Employment among interviewed companies was above 13,700, which was two percent higher than 2010. Total payroll of these companies tops $742 million.
Workforce metrics matched past reports, with no major shifts. “Our market’s workforce quality and stability continue to rate higher than national data, and our local employers are echoing the concerns of their national counterparts regarding availability and productivity,” said Raso.
When asked specifically about recruitment, sixty-eight percent of companies indicated they are having difficulty hiring some positions. The report notes that scientific and technical positions are the most difficult to fill, followed by skilled production labor and jobs in management, marketing and sales. Some companies attribute recruitment challenges directly to their industry and type of work, but many say the misperception of our region, especially by out-of-state candidates, creates barriers to recruiting needed workers.
ICAD Group (iowacityarea.com) is working with area employers regarding these workforce challenges as well as business difficulties including cost of doing business, limitations of air service, and availability of land and office space.