DRA rolls out 19-year jobs report at Hayneville business

Published 10:46 am Thursday, November 29, 2012

From left Mary Bell, owner of Deep Woods Barbecue in Hayneville, and her sisters Cherry Prince and Marilyn Lawrence show off DRA Challenge Coins they received from Christopher A. Masingill, federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, second from left, and Jim Byard Jr., director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, far right. Masingill rolled out a new jobs and small business report on the region at Deep Woods Barbecue on Tuesday.

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

A new study shows that a majority of jobs created in the Delta Regional Authority footprint over the past 19 years have come from small businesses.

Christopher Masingill, DRA federal co-chair, chose Hayneville and Deep Woods Barbecue to roll out the study, called “Jobs and Small Businesses: Job creation and loss in the federal designated Delta region January 1992-January 2010,” in Alabama last Tuesday.

Email newsletter signup

Masingill was accompanied by Dr. James L. Stapleton, executive director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University, who prepared the report, Mike Marshall, DRA alternate federal co-chair, as well as Jim Byard Jr., director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and Bea Forniss, community/development division chief for ADECA.

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) serves eight states and 252 counties, 20 in Alabama.

States include Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

Alabama counties include Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Russell, Sumter, Washington and Wilcox.

Marshall said he and Masingill were on a whirlwind tour of the eight DRA states. He also noted that November is Entrepreneur Month and the upcoming Saturday was Small Business Saturday.

Masingill recognized Byard of ADECA and Marty Bell, owner of Deep Woods Barbecue.

“This is why we are here: because of the partnership and the recognition of businesses and their impact on our local economy,” he said.

Masingill and Byard presented Bell and her sisters Cherry Prince and Marilyn Lawrence with DRA Challenge Coins.

“Oh man, I’m very honored to have them here,” Bell said. “They’ve been great support.”

She has owned Deep Woods Barbecue for three years, but has been in business for 20 years overall.

“The majority of the jobs, all new net jobs that have been created in this part of the world in a 19-year period comes from small businesses,” Masingill said.

According to DRA, since 1992, locally owned establishments with nine or fewer employees created over 91 percent of the new net jobs.

“This is important for a couple of reasons. One is that we’re going to continue to focus at DRA on making sure we help our small businesses,” Masingill said.

While he said such things as broadband projects or infrastructure are critically important. “This is about expanding the pie, making sure that we can provide more resources just like what we’re doing without our traditional economic development,” he said.

Stapleton shared some of the key findings from the report. “Obviously in the region we’re becoming much more of a small business economy,” he said. “Forty-two percent of all the jobs provided in the Delta Region are now provided by small companies… nine or fewer employees.”

He said those small companies created over 800,000 jobs over the period of the study.  He said business with 10 or more employees had a net loss of 150,000 jobs.

Stapleton said it validates “that Main Street is really carrying the load in terms of job creation and sustaining jobs in our region.”

However, he said, “Over the last, especially 10 years, we’re not creating enough new businesses to replace the ones we’ve lost because of the challenging economy.

Stapleton said in the “tough times since 2001,” locally owned businesses like the barbecue restaurant visited Tuesday have stuck it out through hard times.

“Certainly these locally owned small businesses even since that national recession and challenges we’ve had from recovering have hung in there and continued to employ folks,” he said.

The report is available at www.dra.gov.