Small business in Mississippi is the most optimistic that it has been in decades and Ron Aldridge with the National Federation of Independent Business says the uptick in small business in the state is due to policies and legislation in D.C. and in Mississippi.
“We’ve had a sustained period of optimism for the past 16 months, and a lot of that is built on the type of policy that is taking place in Washington, as well as the policy that has been taking place here in Mississippi going beyond 16 months,” Aldridge said.”
However, Aldridge adds that there are still some issues.
“Taxes and following close behind that are regulations that hit hard on small businesses because they don’t have all the staff to deal with those things and the burden of going through all the paperwork process, as well as, the costliness of complying with various things,” Aldridge said. “So, when some of that gets pulled back as has been done in Washington and here in Mississippi, then those issues move out of the way and what has surfaced is the need to find qualified workers.”
Aldridge says finding qualified workers in Mississippi is the most difficult part of the issue and added that soft skills are often where workforce members are lacking.
“Showing up on time, dressing appropriately, knowing how to deal with customers in a positive way and just getting some of those very basics of employment down,” Aldridge said. “We are trying to work with the Mississippi Department of Education through their curriculum, we are trying to work with community colleges as well to share what other issues we have related to the workforce in order to make sure that someone is much more desirable and hireable when they walk in someone’s door. We want everyone in Mississippi to be career ready, or job ready.”
He added that there needs to be a greater emphasis in the K-12 of sharing with young people opportunities outside of the four-year college curriculum.
“We need carpenters, we need welders, we need plumbers, we need electricians…” Aldridge said. “There’s a need out there and its a thing every community needs. Every community doesn’t have to have an automobile plant because they couldn’t handle it with their small workforce, but they do need electricians and plumbers to help take care of those daily needs.”
With Mississippi’s unemployment rate at a historic low of 4.5%, Aldridge said it is an encouragement to young people who will be future small business owners.
“We are trying to be the hospitality community state we are where everybody feels like we are a part of the same family, so that we work together and I think that’s what will pay dividends here in Mississippi, because our people want to work together and we will be able to move forward exponentially over the next few years and this is going to be a state of great opportunity for young people in the future and particularly in the area of small business in being able to own, operate, and grow your own business,” Aldridge said. “Then, you will not only create your own job, you will grow jobs for others.”