Help Small Businesses Grow from 1 Employee to 2

From a modest home in Palm Bay, one of America’s leading Internet security experts launched an attack on our economy last year. David Gewirtz’ weapon of mass instruction was a self-published book called “How to Save Jobs.”

For sale on Amazon.com and free for download as a PDF at www.howtosavejobs.org, the book explores the global roots of our country’s and our county’s economic meltdown. It also offers a detailed plot to rebuild the American economy from the bottom up. His scheme is to get all economic development activity focused on creating and growing small companies, those with 10 employees or less.

Assessing Our Successes

I moused through Gewirtz’s digital file late last October 20 after I got home from the EDC of the Space Coast’s annual meeting. That night, at the Rialto Hilton, over dinners of pork and cheesecake, the business community celebrated the planned 2011 opening of the Embraer facility at Melbourne International Airport. Two years in the making, the Brazilian aircraft plant could employ 200 the day after the ribbon cutting.

Two hundred jobs after two years of effort is great. There’s just this wee problem. The county is expected to have 13,000 people out of work by this time next year, or more. So, if you do the math, we actually need 130 Embraers, not just one, and we need them in place and operating in Brevard County by this time next year.

Perhaps someone should pour EDC President Lynda Weatherman another cup of coffee. Or a Scotch.

Is There a Solution? Kidding aside, the EDC and Brevard Workforce need our help, and the same could be said for our country. The United States has nearly 15 million people out of work or who have stopped looking for work, and would need to create 30 million jobs to make America competitive again.

If the Feds take a few years to rehire our prized space workers, and heavy manufacturing takes too long to get here, there really is only one way to create the amount of sustainable jobs we need here now – we have to do it ourselves. We have to hire each other.

Consider that in Brevard County in 2008, businesses with nine or fewer employees represented 94.8 percent of the 62,367 companies here (according to youreconony.org). That means 58,000 or so employers here had 9 employees or less.

If half of those hired just one employee more, we would have no jobs crisis in Brevard County.

Those same “Stage 1” companies already employed 53.8{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2} of the 318,000 employed workers in the county. Let’s round it off and say 150,000 of our workers in Brevard are in one of the 58,000 small businesses with nine or fewer employees. About half of those 58,000 companies have only one employee. That means there are 29,000 people such as shop owners, craftsman, contractors, consultants and freelancers, working alone in their own businesses. If each hired just one more employee, we would be just 1,000 jobs shy of our target.

What is the Hold Up?

Now, if we could figure out the number one barrier of going from one employee to two, so that each of those self-employed could hire one person quickly, we could help Brevard County’s economy truly take off. Those studies have been done, and guess what? The number one business barrier to hiring that first employee is, wait for it . . . understanding the government bureaucracy it takes to hire that first employee.

I recently hired my first employee, a salesperson. I estimate it took me about two months of effort working with the federal, state and county government, accountants, lawyers, banks, and QuickBooks, to make that transition from self-employed to employer. We simply have to make job creation simpler.

We should try to get some of our government leaders to pass legislation to streamline the company creation process, and the employee creation process. We could try to shift some of the Federal worker training budgets to employer training. While we must continue to support the efforts to bring big new factories to Brevard, just recognize we need to save our jobs in small businesses more, and we can do it faster.