Numbers of prospective businesses in 2019 have started out very strong. There are 20 so far, with an annual goal of 25. I have sensed a pent-up anxiety among entrepreneurs and businesses, which may be the result of their wanting to initiate their plans of growth. This should not be a surprise. Our banks are reporting that they have cash to lend. Our businesses have gotten over a year of what President Trump’s economic and trade policies are doing, plus the challenges of labor have now been experienced. It appears the time to act is now.
The prolonged downturn in the ag economy has resulted in farmers analyzing how they can add value to their products. Should we just produce milk or should we develop a plan to produce the milk and then turn it into cheese or yogurt and market it ourselves? This is one question that I am dealing with.
I believe we will see new businesses focused on adding value to the current agriculture and manufacturing products that we have been producing for decades. Eleven of my twenty prospects are entrepreneurial or new start up types of business. Some are retail, some commercial, and some are manufacturing. It is all good. The economy and environment of business in Grant County is open to entrepreneurial growth. Diversity is what helps our economy remain strong.
The tools we have to support these local small businesses are limited but we are working to further expand those opportunities and to create new tools to help all our businesses. Hopefully there will be at least one new loan program or tool available to use by the end of the year. Wisconsin has never had a large number of programs for businesses, but we can still assist and grow our businesses with a little bit of knowledge. We can make a lot happen with limited resources. History has shown us that.
So as the year proceeds, I do foresee new businesses, new buildings, new investments and new opportunities for Grant County. We are in early March and it is looking like an active year full of opportunities. My prognostication may be different or better than the groundhog’s, but mine are based on discussions with my businesses and my banks and just taking the time to listen. Too often in the economic development world, people want to talk and talk some more, but rarely do they listen. Well if we take the time to listen, we can get a true sense of what is happening. I believe 2019 can be a strong year for economic development.