Leader Circle Sponsors

New Business Retention and Expansion survey sheds light on area business climate

October 2016 - As part of its ongoing mission to serve the needs of its members, partners, and the Grays Harbor region as a whole, Greater Grays Harbor Inc. (GGHI) developed a survey of regional businesses to inform community improvement efforts. The report is a culmination of 90 interviews with area business leaders and owners. It captures their thoughts on the area’s business climate, development priorities, and future economic outlook.

“Helping our existing companies grow is the primary objective of this program,” said Dru Garson, CEO of GGHI. “This report is a great tool to identify the positive aspects of conducting business in Grays Harbor as well as areas that need improvement.”

In the report, surveyed businesses indicated they are optimistic about the future and are planning to grow.

  • Sixty-eight (68%) percent of respondents reported that they expect their sales to increase over the next year, while more than one-quarter expect sales to remain the same.
  • Most respondents reported that they intend to either expand (54%) or remain the same (45%) over the next 18 months. A few plan to relocate, and even fewer plan to sell, close or downsize.
  • Around 81 percent of those who plan to expand said they intend to add new staff.

Local businesses are “Shopping the Harbor First” and would like to see more products offered locally.

  • Local businesses already purchase a large proportion of their products, services and supplies from local sources, however many cited a desire to see local sourcing expand.
  • Industrial products and services, construction materials and contractors, health care, bulk grocers, agricultural and retail supplies were frequently mentioned by respondents.

While businesses have mixed emotions about “doing business in Grays Harbor,” some indicated their feelings are improving.

  • Around 45 percent of respondents have a positive impression of Grays Harbor as a place to do business; 36 percent of respondents considered Grays Harbor County an average place to do business; and 18 percent of respondents have a negative impression of Grays Harbor.
  • While more than half of respondents indicated that their attitudes about doing business in Grays Harbor County remained the same over the past three years, 37 percent said their attitudes have become more positive.

When asked to rate a variety of community services, businesses saw the cost of living for employees, the overall quality of life, and the quality of highways and freeways as beneficial factors to doing business in Grays Harbor. However, they would like to see the quality of rental housing, the quality of the workforce, and the availability of health and medical services improve.

  • Factors related to doing business in Grays Harbor County with the highest positive ratings were: cost of living for employees (74%), overall quality of life (67%), and quality of highways and freeways (45%).
  • The factors with the highest negative ratings were: quality of rental housing (45%), quality of workforce (42%), and availability of health and medical services (40%).
  • Around two-thirds of respondents rated Grays Harbor College, local/regional fire services, police services, and parks and open spaces as ‘excellent’ or ‘above-average’ community services.

The report is part of GGHI’s Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) program to help retain and grow companies in Grays Harbor County. The report helps local leaders better understand the area’s business needs and the overall business climate. This helps guide the economic development strategy to make Grays Harbor a more welcoming place to live and conduct business.

The full report is available here.
The survey questions are available here.