The Stanislaus Business Alliance says there are at least 300 of what economic development people call “base employers” in the county. These are companies that drive a local economy because they export goods and services while importing money that circulates throughout the rest of the economy.
The alliance – for the first time – is surveying these employers. Besides learning more about them, this helps the alliance develops closer ties with these firms, helps them with their concerns, and lets the alliance do a better job participating in local government’s public policy debates because it has better information. It also helps the alliance identify the high-value, high-growth companies and target its efforts on their behalf.
The alliance, focused on economic development and workforce development, started the survey last April. It has surveyed more than 210 companies and expects to finish by the end of this year.
Because of privacy and confidentiality concerns, the alliance declined to say which companies are participating in the survey. But examples of base employers include such companies as E.&J. Gallo Winery, Fiscalini Cheese Co. and the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Patterson.
The alliance has tabulated the results of the 193 base employers it surveyed in 2014. Here are some highlights:
▪ 146 of the 193 firms say they plan to add 1,972 jobs over the next three years. The alliance does not know how many employees these firms have now.
▪ Nearly two-thirds of the firms say they are in a growth phase, and 96 percent of the firms report increasing or stable sales.
▪ The firms’ top five reasons for being in Stanislaus County are the low cost of doing business, positive quality of life, access to suppliers, positive business climate, and location. These reasons are in no particular order.
▪ The firms’ top five areas for improvement – again in no particular order – are transportation, quality of life, local government services, and increasing the supplies of skilled and unskilled workers. And, yes, quality of life showed up on the companies’ lists as one of the county’s chief strengths and weaknesses.
The alliance is using an economic development tool called Synchronist for the survey. Alliance officials say Synchronist is commonly used elsewhere in the United States but not as much in California.