BEDFORD, Ind. (Feb. 24, 2022) –– A new study of entrepreneurship in southern Indiana provides insights that both confirm and confound expectations about business start-ups as the economy emerges from the pandemic era. The survey of entrepreneurs, carried out by Radius Indiana, is a follow-on to a 2019 survey before COVID-19 upended numerous aspects of business activity.
The 2021 Radius Indiana Entrepreneur Survey shares information on the demand for spaces, resources, and other support to grow entrepreneurship and support remote working in southwest central Indiana. Just over 100 respondents to the online survey revealed their needs and preferences as entrepreneurs and small business owners in the eight-county region.
The survey showed an appetite for entrepreneurship among women in the region (47 percent of respondents were female), as well as diversity in the types of businesses survey-takers plan to start. These statistics reconfirm that the region’s entrepreneurs are diverse, and the services and initiatives put into place to support entrepreneurship must be flexible and customizable to the wide variety of situations.
“The diversity that our regional entrepreneur’s display was a pleasant surprise. Almost half are females, and veterans make up nine percent of respondents – perhaps a result of the influence of NSA Crane – which draws people with an interest in the defense sector,” Blaine Parker, director of entrepreneurship and small business support for Radius Indiana, said.
“We’ve all grown accustomed to hearing about serial entrepreneurs, who start or own multiple businesses. Our survey confirms that those leaders are very present in our region, with nearly half of the survey respondents owning multiple businesses, especially in the retail and professional services fields,” Parker added.
Chamberlin/Dunn, an analysis and strategy firm that works to gather, improve, and apply better information for better decisions for its clients, conducted the survey in December 2021 and January 2022.
The survey is a follow-on to the 2019 survey that was part of the Southwest Indiana Technology and Collaboration Hub Network or “SWITCH” Network Feasibility Study run by Radius Indiana and the Southern Indiana Development Commission.
“One of the biggest benefits of this survey is that it shows coworking or shared office amenities may be in higher demand than even survey takers realize,” Nicole Dunn, who helped administer both the 2019 and 2021 surveys, said. “In both surveys, the same percentage of respondents (55 percent) said they would not use a coworking space frequently or at all. But in this second survey, we asked a more detailed question about coworking space amenities, and that showed about two-thirds of respondents would indeed use those services for themselves or their employees.”
Both surveys showed the highest demand was for access to funding, grants, and capital, and mentorship from other entrepreneurs. COVID does not seem to have changed that.
The survey also reported:
- There is a high demand for assistance with marketing and marketing research;
- There is interest in starting businesses in both downtown and non-downtown locations;
- And there is demand in the region for certain services, especially broadband, printing/copying, and conference room space.
Three counties in the region showed new business start-up levels above the national average in 2020, according to the US Census Bureau. While national numbers of new business growth increased by 24.3 percent in 2020, Dubois (28.14 percent), Greene (36.13 percent), and Lawrence County (25.54 percent) all saw higher rates of new business formation. The Radius survey results suggest that the strong new business formation may continue into 2022 and 2023.
“One of Radius Indiana’s goals is to focus on boosting new businesses in the downtown cores of our communities, as both an economic development initiative as well as a quality of place improvement, and we’re encouraged by the number of individuals who indicated they have a high likelihood of opening in a downtown,” Jeff Quyle, president and CEO of Radius Indiana, said. “We are actively assisting the downtown revitalization process now with our programs, and this gives us candidates we can talk to for our next cohort.
“This survey confirms that the steps we’re taking to develop a dedicated revolving loan fund for downtown startups will be a useful achievement this year.”
About Radius Indiana: Radius Indiana is a regional economic development partnership representing eight counties in Southern Indiana: Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange, and Washington. Formed in 2009, Radius Indiana also serves as a point of contact in Indiana for Naval Support Activity Crane and leads regional collaboration by leveraging the diverse assets of Southwest Central Indiana to drive attraction, retention and expansion of business, thereby increasing employment and investment opportunities and quality of life within the region