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Opinion- Daddy Warbucks

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Small businesses on the rise

Daddy W. has noticed a trend that smaller businesses
(those with nine or fewer employees) are making a come
back here in mega employee driven Northwest Arkansas.
But these mom and poppa businesses do have challenges
- like how to afford benefits, salaries and other
enticement to keep loyal employees. Daddy W. says join the attitude in all the workforce of 5, 15, or 1,500 employees.
There is “gold” to be found in keeping some employees
long term – more continuity in your business, more
productivity, better focus and in a really small
business – you may actually gain and retain a larger
part of your customer base by the employees you
employ. And it also works both ways – in a really
small business – you could actually lose business
because of inept, rude or overall bad employee
behavior.

In Washington County, for instance, there were
approximately 902 businesses in 2002 with 5-9
employees. That number leaps to 1,057 such businesses
in 2005 (the latest figures available). In neighboring
Benton County there were 694 in 2002 and in 2005 that
number surged to 876. The counties where the number of
business actually dropping in this category were:
Madison, Carroll, Boone, Crawford, Franklin and Scott.
These areas actually saw small business growth retreat
- rather than increase in this time period. Sebastian
County (Fort Smith) had 691 of these small businesses
in 2002 and only grew to 702 in 2005. Once again,
Sebastian County is not a haven for small business.
Washington and Benton County and their respective
Chambers of Commerce, must stay focused on this group
of businesses. Small business is indeed the lifeblood
to a community. Yes, the big businesses -
manufacturing – retail – are important. But if not for
the small businessman, would there really be a big
business.

FIZZLING OUT
There has been a noticeable “chill” on
the Lights of the Ozarks Activities around the Square
since city fathers have said this well may be the last
year for the lights festival – unless some other
entity – i.e. the Chamber of Commerce steps up. Daddy
W. is seeing less and less activity down there and
that’s not good.

UNDERWOODS WORK
The steel keeps on rising and the work continues on the Underwood Towers, while other projects seem to have slowed. That Bill Underwood is one
more taskmaster.

PERMITS LAGGING
While the economy cools and really
cools outside of NWA – building permits for the region
show, yes, that building is off – just slightly. From
Oct. 2006 a monthly average of $33,990,000 in permits
were issued. In Oct. 2007, that rate drooped to
$31,085,000 – with over 2,861 building permits issued
Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, in 2007. Just to add some
perspective, the Forth Smith area from Jan. 1-Oct. 31
- had only 827 building permits issued for $85,256,000
in permits.
-
LESS BEEF
Once more to cut costs, area beef packers
are cutting back on slaughter rates. The major U.S.
beef players are cutting back on shifts and
slaughtering less cattle as the fickle overseas
markets cause U.S. packing houses concern. Overall a
cooling economy has also cut back on domestic beef
sales.

GAS UP, UP
The price of gasoline, flirting with the
$3 a gallon mark, has not fallen as fast or as much
as Congress and others railing about the high cost of
fuel want. The overall monthly averageĀ  has reached one of the highest 30 day periods in U.S. history, yet the price of oil by the
barrel has fallen.

PATENT ISSUED
Daddy W. reads the U.S. Patents awarded each week. This past week, a friend of one of the new patent holders called with the news. A systems
and method for Gyro Enhanced Vertical flight information system has been patented. The lucky patent holders are James R. Younkin of Springdale and Charles R. Bilbe of Fayetteville. TruTrak Flight Systems of Springdale is the company where the duo works.

NO GAG
Newspaper types have to adore Tom Terminella. He may not be the best businessman or developer, but he’s got moxie. He has asked the court
NOT to issue a gag order in his suit against Metropolitan National Bank over a foreclosure order. Terminalla says he wants everyone to see the tactics the bank used against him. Will he win? He already has in Daddy W’s eyes.

BIG AWARDS
Fine dining can indeed be found in Arkansas, according to the recent American Automobile Association or Triple A’s Four Diamond Award ratings. Of the 32,000 AAA rated lodgings and restaurants, only three
percent earn the Four Diamond rating. The well known, James at the Mill in Johnson is the only restaurant in Arkansas to receive the award. A pair of Arkansas lodgings also earned the Four Diamond rating: Angel at Rose Hall in Eureka Springs and The Peabody in Little Rock. Congrats!

APPOINTED
Mike Malone, the Fayetteville native, who
heads up the Northwest Arkansas Council and Pam
Marshall of Tontitown, has been appointed to the
Governor’s Roundtable on Health Care. Malone
represents area business while Marshall is a consumer
member.

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