Survey: Job Scarcity Gives Rise to Coos Bay-North Bend Entrepreneurship Boom

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Palo Alto Software poll finds that local small business owners expect to hire more employees and see significant revenue increases in 2014

A survey of small business owners in the Coos Bay and North Bend areas has found that local residents are turning to entrepreneurship for job security following the closure of a major area employer and a steady decline in the once-booming logging industry.

The survey, conducted by Eugene-based Palo Alto Software, found that 77 percent of local entrepreneurs started their own business due to a desire for independence. About a third said they started companies because of lack of employment opportunities in the area (35 percent), or after quitting their jobs or being fired or laid off (31 percent).

Arlene Soto, director of the local Small Business Development Center, cites the entrepreneurship boom as a response to job scarcity in the area, which was hit particularly hard by the 2008 recession and has been slow to recover. She said the closing of the Xerox North Bend call center in May 2013, which resulted in 300 jobs lost and a 1.4 percent increase in local unemployment, has recently contributed to a spike in new small businesses.

“Coos Bay-North Bend was once the busiest logging port in the world,” Soto said. “As the industry slowed down, so did economic opportunity. A large group of entrepreneurs decided to take matters into their own hands to improve their fortunes and revitalize the area.”

Almost half of the survey respondents (46 percent) said they started their businesses in 2013, and three-quarters have opened their doors since 2011. The survey found that most local entrepreneurs plan to steadily grow their businesses over the next year:

  • While 52 percent are currently solo entrepreneurs, 45 percent plan to hire two or more employees in 2014. Five percent plan to hire more than 10 people.
  • Only 16 percent expect revenue of more than $100,000 this year, but that number doubles to 32 percent for 2014. The number of businesses making less than $25,000 is projected to drop from 62 percent to 31 percent.
  • The majority of local small businesses are seeking additional funding, with 44 percent pursuing micro-loans of $50,000 or less.
  • Four of 10 respondents are using social media to start and grow their businesses.

Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, said the Coos Bay-North Bend small business owners are paving the way to improved economic conditions in the area. “By bootstrapping, embracing social media tools, planning and tracking, seeking micro-funding and mentorship, Southwestern Oregon SBDC entrepreneurs are the embodiment of American small business,” Parsons said. “They’re devoted to turning their community around.”

The survey, conducted in August 2013, was sent to 77 local entrepreneurs who have consulted with the SBDC for business advice. Palo Alto Software provides online business planning and financial tracking tools to entrepreneurs working with the SBDC. The number one reason entrepreneurs cited for seeking advice from their local SBDC was to get assistance with writing a business plan.

About Palo Alto Software
Palo Alto Software, Inc., makers of the #1 selling business planning software in the world, develops and publishes tools, products, and content to help small and midsized businesses pitch, plan, manage, and grow their ventures. LivePlan, the company’s flagship product, is a SaaS (software as a service) solution for business planning and financial management. Palo Alto Software has been the market leader in its category for over 15 years, has served well over 2 million entrepreneurs, and has customers in 180 countries. It was founded in 1988 by business planning expert Tim Berry. Sabrina Parsons has been the company’s CEO since 2007. Parsons successfully expanded its service offering into the cloud with LivePlan. Palo Alto Software is a privately-owned corporation based in Eugene, Oregon.

About SWOCC Small Business Development Center
The Southwestern Oregon Community College Small Business Development Center provides practical information and services for business success. The center provides specialty assistance to both rapid growth businesses and start-ups with the goal of strengthening and supporting entrepreneurial culture. The center designs training tailored to meet the needs of any business or organization.

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