Rick Thomas is executive vice president and director of northern Nevada at Nevada State Bank. Courtesy photo
While the Silver State is rebounding from the 2020 slump, it’s no surprise that the number one concern for small businesses is the economy.
That’s according to the Nevada State Bank’s eighth annual Small Business Survey, which was conducted by Las Vegas research firm Applied Analysis in January and the results of which were released in late March.
The survey, which looked at more than 400 Nevada small businesses, found that about h
Rick Thomas, executive vice president / northern Nevada executive of Nevada State Bank, pointed out that when the survey was conducted (January), the economy was in a much more fragile state than it was ‘is actually.
“It says a lot, at the time there was still a lot of uncertainty,” Thomas said in a recent telephone interview with the NNBW. “The economy was almost at a standstill and companies were sort of trying to figure out which direction things were going to go. The effects of last year were probably still a big concern and on their minds. “
As of January, however, COVID restrictions were still tightened and vaccinations were not yet widely available for Nevadans.
Additionally, the country was on the heels of a controversial 2020 presidential election. As such, the survey showed that 63% of NSB survey respondents believe Nevada’s economy is heading in the wrong direction. , and nearly 53% believe that the national economy is too.
Notably, the survey was a statewide sample and did not yield any results specific to Washoe and Carson City counties, Thomas said.
“If you took the same poll now, I would assume the poll would have much more optimistic results,” Thomas said. “At the time, unemployment in Nevada was still relatively high, retail sales were down, visitor volumes and gaming revenues were down.”
While all of these areas have improved since the start of the year, an issue that still faces many businesses is the shortage of workers.
In fact, over 20% of those surveyed believe that hiring and retaining qualified employees is the most important challenge they face as a business today.
On a related note, the survey showed that recruiting quality employees was a challenge, with around 74% of small business owners saying it was somewhat or very difficult for them to recruit top candidates. quality in the Nevada market.
“This is one of the biggest concerns and what I hear a lot about businesses,” Thomas said. “I would say the majority of our customers we talk to deal with a lower employee base than they were before the pandemic. And I would say the majority of them have openings right now. “
The survey showed that nearly one in three small business owners cut their workforce in 2020. This year, 30% say they plan to increase their workforce.
“Population and job growth continues here,” Thomas said. “It’s mainly a by-product of our success. As businesses move to northern Nevada our economy is more diverse which is great because it will give us more resilience and economic downturn which is kind of a pandemic but you know that we are catching up by providing the basic employee needs to support the continued growth of our region.
The Nevada State Bank survey also showed that 94% of those surveyed who applied for the Payment Protection Program (P3) loan were successful in obtaining one.
To this end, 90.5% indicated that their banking relationship was quite important to very important to the success of their business. Notably, 88% of those surveyed said they remain open and operate as a core business during the COVID crisis.
Due to the aforementioned challenges of running a business during a pandemic, few saw growth in 2020. More than 50% of those surveyed said their income or sales had declined and around 28% said their sales had declined. had stagnated last year.
While a majority of small businesses feel the business environment in Nevada has deteriorated, many are optimistic about what 2021 will bring. Almost 37% of respondents believe their profitability will increase this year, while only around 18% expect it to decrease. Another 42% of those surveyed expect their profitability to stay the same.
Zooming out, small businesses in Nevada believe it will take an average of three years for the U.S. economy to return to pre-pandemic levels. Respondents from Silver State, however, believe their business will rebound to a pre-COVID state in just 1.8 years.
“When the survey was done in January, I think that’s a pretty good estimate, when you’re talking about a full return to all lines of business,” Thomas said. “We are seeing very strong trends and some industries have already returned to pre-pandemic levels. We’re seeing strong metrics and performance in construction and games, as well as metrics that people want to start traveling and dining out again.
“Obviously, in a tourist economy, that’s an advantage. And other companies are starting to get their logistics back on track. “