LIMA — For businesses and industry, 2015 may bring more of the same. That’s not all bad.
Jeff Sprague, president and CEO of Allen Economic Development Group, said he has heard from businesses in Lima and the county they had a successful 2014. The feedback Sprague received from area small businesses made him optimistic about 2015.
One business told him that it had its best year since 2006.
“It’s taken them almost eight years to recover from the downturn in the economy,” Sprague said. “Their optimism for 2015 is that it’s going to (continue).”
The upcoming year will include building on what companies and agencies have been working on.
Allen Economic Development Group will continue to work with businesses on workforce development issues in the new year, Sprague said.
David McClough, an economics associate professor at Ohio Northern University, emphasized how important workforce is in business.
“I would encourage businesses to be cautious not to invest too much in capacity and to invest more in workers,” he said. “(That makes for) generally not only more productive workers, but greater demand in the local economy.”
Investing in workers is the “most impactful” way of affecting the local economy, McClough said, as the employees turn around and inject that money into other local businesses.
Employees and a workforce are an important topic to many local businesses, as Sprague hears that many are having trouble finding skilled workers to replace retiring Baby Boomers.
This was an issue AEDG worked on in 2014 and will continue to work on in the new year, he said.
“We’re lined up to assist companies who are going through expansion,” Sprague said.
AEDG is also anticipating new companies coming to the area.
“I think we’re probably going to see that pipeline expand a little bit,” he said. “We’ll probably see a few more opportunities for attraction.”
Another crossover from 2014 may be gas prices, which McClough believes will stay low into the first half of 2015.
“It makes it cheaper for firms to produce and puts more money in the pockets of consumers so they can spend more,” he said.