Checkup reveals need for rural initiatives to help small business development in region

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

A study completed by Radius Indiana revealed that while rural communities in Indiana generally have a less favorable business climate than urban counties, the counties in the Radius region —Dubois, Crawford, Daviess, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange, and Washington — have held their own, even while lagging in some categories of statistics.

Radius Indiana developed the Radius Small Business Index (SBI.) as part of a series of three indices, which also include manufacturing and tourism, to provide the organization with analytic tools that monitor several facets to gauge the strength of the regional economy in southern Indiana.

Statistics reveal that while some economic factors impact urban and rural communities in similar ways, smaller population centers, and subsequently a lower number of potential consumers, present specific challenges for rural areas.

“Our Radius Small Business Index gives us a good benchmark to begin tracking the growth of this important business sector in our region,” said Radius Indiana President and CEO Jeff Quyle. “Last year the Indiana Small Business Development Center reported that the Radius region is home to nearly 9,000 small businesses; that number represents a significant part of our local economy. While we know there are challenges for rural communities, we also know that our area is committed to helping our small businesses succeed.”

The Radius SBI looked at a collection of 13 statistics for the eight counties of Radius and compares the result to 70 other counties in Indiana that are considered rural. The relevant statistics measure the number of small businesses in a community, their revenues, innovation (measured as a leading indicator of potential new small business births), employment, and earnings from the latest complete year of data, 2015.

The index also includes a comparison to the statistics for all 92 counties in Indiana, a benchmark number that is skewed by the inclusion of such urban counties as Allen, Vanderburgh, Marion, and Lake, among others.

The Radius region has an index ranking of 39.41, compared to a rural Indiana county benchmark of 52.59, and a total Indiana rank of 138.18. While the Radius SBI number and the rural Indiana index number are close to one another, the larger total Indiana index number reflects the urban impact of more small business establishments per county, greater receipts per establishment, and greater numbers of patents per county.

According to the statistics, the average number of patents issued in Radius counties is below the average for all Indiana rural counties, as well as below the overall 92-county average for the state. The disparity in numbers for the patent portion of the index accounted for 60 percent of the difference between the Radius region and the rest of rural Indiana.

As a result of compiling this index tool, Radius will begin to explore steps that can be taken to improve opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“One step Radius is investigating is the development of a regional network to help aid entrepreneurs in the region,” said Quyle. “Radius will call together a collaborative group of local economic development leaders and others to explore formation of such a regional network.”