Surry County businesses reported more than $707 million in taxable sales in fiscal 2012, the highest since 2007, according to the N.C. Department of Revenue.
The openings of dozens of new businesses last year contributed to the local economy’s growth, according to Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership. He said the newcomers include several well-known corporate names, but many others are purely locally owned and operated. A rough tally by SCEDP – Tucker said it’s by no means complete – lists nearly four-dozen new businesses in Mount Airy, Elkin, Dobson and Pilot Mountain.
“What’s happened is, the economy has been really slow for the past couple of years. People have been sitting on their money, but they’ve had ideas about things they’d like to do and now they’re starting companies,” Tucker explained. “Other people were laid off or they had a job they can’t count on and decided they have to come up with a new way to make a living. It’s a fact that sometimes we see the most entrepreneurial startups in hard times. That happens a lot.”
More than 60 businesses and 165 LLCs (limited-liability corporations) in Surry County filed new incorporation papers with the N.C. Secretary of State’s office in 2012. Tucker said some previously existed as sole proprietorships or partnerships, and now have grown big enough to need corporate tax status. Others are entirely new.
The filings don’t include the larger corporations who opened Surry County stores last year. Among them are Goody’s, Badcock & More Home Furniture, 7-Eleven, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Dollar General, Sheetz (at two locations) and Chick-fil-A.
Tucker said the larger companies or their franchisees obviously saw opportunities to make money here.
“Those companies are making market-based decisions. When they see an ideal location or market for their product, they have the resources to jump in,” he said. “They’re searching out the spots that make sense and going after them. In 2012 that was Surry County.”
Tucker said he hopes that more people, including local residents, will see and appreciate that there are good opportunities to run successful businesses in Surry County.
“Folks hear a lot about the bad things, like Henredon closing, John S. Clark closing, Harvest Time Bread closing, but they don’t hear a lot about these smaller to mid-sized businesses opening. Obviously, Sheetz, Chick-fil-A and Goody’s – all the bigger corporate outfits – they’ve got enough money to market their openings and everybody gets excited about that, which is great. But you can see other good things have happened and are happening.”
“Surry County is moving forward,” Tucker continued. “I’m not going to say it’s all hunky-dory. We’ve lost a lot of jobs and a lot of people aren’t working where they would like to work. We’re not going to get to where we were in 2005 or ‘06 overnight. This is going to be a slow healing process, but we’re definitely on that track. People are spending money. Business is coming back. We’re not moving backwards; we’re moving forward. We’re moving in a good direction.