City’s first ever business count shows employer openness for working from home
A third of businesses are looking to hire
Council is about to learn more than they ever knew before about small business in the city – including that nearly three quarters of local businesses will continue to let employees work from home after the pandemic is over.
Rebecca Mustard, manager of economic development for Kawartha Lakes, will be presenting the findings of the first ever ‘business count’ in the city to the February committee of the whole meeting Feb. 8
On the important issue of virtual employment, 95 per cent of businesses in Kawartha Lakes report that they have up to 10 per cent of their employees working from home because of the pandemic. Another 5 percent of businesses report that they have more than 10 per cent of their employees working from home because of COVID-19.
A full 70 per cent of businesses told city staff that they anticipate that their employees will continue to work from home post-pandemic.
Other numbers from the business count show that one-third of businesses are looking to hire and a smaller but significant number are expecting to expand the size of their business operations.
Following the lead of many larger municipalities like Durham and Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes approved the funding and infrastructure for a business count across the city in last year’s budget.
The inaugural study is small to start with a plan to expand across the municipality in future years. For its first year, the survey of businesses includes downtown Bobcaygeon, Coboconk-Norland, Fenelon Falls, Omemee and Lindsay. Industrial areas in Fenelon Falls, Lindsay and Pontypool were also surveyed.
The surveys were conducted over a three-week time period in August of 2021 with information gathered either in-person, by phone or online at the municipal website at www.kawarthalakes.ca/businesscount.
“A business count project is an opportunity to gather business and employment property information at the local level for enhanced evidence-based decision making,” Mustard wrote in her preamble to the report. “Business count projects gather information on a variety of data points including business activity, locations, employment and future plans.”
Mustard believes that the data gathered last summer will provide a snapshot of the Kawartha Lakes economy, provide enhanced regional and workforce data, assist in making informed decisions related to job and economic growth and enhance communication channels between businesses and the municipality.
“The information gathered in these projects is then used by multiple departments including economic development, planning and emergency services to support decisions and better serve the community,” Mustard wrote.
The business data gathered also indicates not only the importance small business plays as a driver of economic activity and provider of employment, but that despite two years of the pandemic many businesses are hopeful about the future.
In total, 262 businesses, employing a total of 1,935 people, participated in the inaugural survey. And 1,348 of those jobs are full-time and 587 are part-time or seasonal. Two percent of the businesses who responded are unionized. The largest private employers in Kawartha Lakes are found in the industry and trade sectors.
Economic development is planning to provide assistance to those businesses with expansion plans. The count learned that most small businesses who participated are well established within their respective communities with 68 per cent in business before 2010. The businesses surveyed occupy 862,528 square feet of retail and industrial space.
Mustard anticipates that the next Kawartha Lakes business count, fully funded in the upcoming budget, will be launched this summer and another report will be presented to council late in 2022.