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Small businesses power local economy, report says

SAN DIEGO — Businesses with fewer than 100 employees in San Diego County account for nearly 60 percent of the county’s workforce, according to a report released Tuesday by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and the San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center.

The San Diego EDC surveyed 522 small businesses for its report, “An In-Depth Look at San Diego’s Small Business Ecosystem.” Those businesses employ roughly 697,000 workers, according to the report, which accounts for 59 percent of the county’s workforce.

Of those small businesses, 36 percent are owned by women, 20 percent are owned by people of color and 10 percent are owned by veterans. Sixty-nine percent of small businesses said they had grown financially over the past two years, the EDC said, and 41 percent plan to hire more employees over the next two years.

“This study helps reinforce what we already know,” San Diego Regional EDC Research Director Kirby Brady said. “San Diego’s small businesses are the cornerstone of our economy, employing nearly 700,000 San Diegans and driving innovation across the world.”

Businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services industry accounted for 14 percent of the surveyed businesses, the highest percentage in the report and the only industry totaling more than 9 percent. The finance, real estate and insurance industry and the retail industry accounted for 8.6 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.

While 81 percent of businesses surveyed expect to grow financially in the immediate future, 25 percent of them suggested that finding new customers and clients is the biggest challenge they face. Another 14 percent claimed financial stability is their most significant challenge.

“In order to better serve the needs of our small businesses and entrepreneurs, it’s important that we understand their perceptions and experiences,” said Danny Fitzgerald, the San Diego & Imperial SBDC’s associate regional director. “This study will enable us to create new and enhance existing programming to support small business growth across the region.”

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