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Committee completes second Leland business study

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By Brian Slattery

LELAND — Leland’s Economic Development Committee finished a second round of town business surveys, which economic development director Gary Vidmar reviewed for commissioners at their June 21 meeting.

The first economic development Leland business study was completed in 2016 after the LEDC sent the business survey to 352 businesses.

The second survey was sent out to more than 400 businesses, Vidmar said, adding all of the businesses contacted are inside Leland’s commercial limits.

Vidmar said the survey helps the LEDC keep an updated list of Leland businesses and learn more about the business community, the hurdles business owners have faced, available opportunities and what is needed for the business environment to grow.

“We want to obtain feedback regarding how businesses view the town’s services,” he said. “Why did they locate here? Are they successful? Are they growing? And what challenges they may be facing what can we do about that? How we can fill their needs, as a town?”

In 2016, the LEDC received completed surveys from 63 businesses, including 24 personal interviews completed by committee members.

Vidmar said this year 53 business surveys were returned to the LEDC survey committee, but no personal interviews were held.

He also said the LEDC changed many questions to improve the format and used Survey Monkey to prepare and track the results.

The LEDC asked business owners how they see the business climate in Leland. The 2016 majority, about 32 businesses responded it is very friendly or somewhat friendly.

About a dozen said the climate for business was neutral but a half dozen responded the climate is unfriendly to business.

For 2018, the business climate was rated good or very good by 33 business owners, Eight others said the business climate was excellent. But seven said it was just fair and five others called the climate poor.

Hiring a qualified workforce was one of the respondents’ biggest concerns both in 2016 and 2018.

The 2016 survey showed 34 people thought they had a fair to good chance of hiring a qualified worker. The number stayed nearly the same in 2018 with 32 businesses ranking the workforce fair to good.

Eight businesses in 2016 said workforce qualifications were good, which dropped to only four in 2018.

Five respondents ranked the qualified workforce excellent in 2016. Just three agreed workforce hiring was excellent in 2018.

Most of the businesses (30 of 57) said they were unsure if networking or training opportunities would be useful.

But when asked directly if they would be interested in business training and seminars, more business owners said no (27) than yes (25).

Customer service in 2018 received high marks with 35 people calling it good or very good and only one survey member calling the customer service poor.

When asked why business owners located in Leland, the largest group of respondents in both years said growth and expansion of the town were the most important reason, with 21 businesses choosing the response in 2016 and 23 selecting it in 2018.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.