Wiregrass wage watch: market ready for small businesses

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — In 2008 the average wage in Houston County was $39,000. Ten years later in 2018, the average wage went up just above $45,000. So now the question is: how does that break down into employment fields?

“Our primary employment here is in healthcare,” said Steve Turkoski, projects manager for the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce. “Obviously you’re going to have growth in that. Transportation logistics is one of our major employment sectors. We’ve had some growth in that, sales, food preparation. Now during this COVID crisis in the hospitality field, we’ve obviously lost some people, but, as I said, we’ve had a rebound and a lot of those jobs have been recovered.”

Over 7,000 jobs have been lost since the start of the pandemic but now the employment rate is at 114% compared to Houston County’s current unemployment rate of 4.7%. Aside from the primary employment sectors, Houston County is primarily made up of small businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

“It takes money to make money and, for many small businesses, the biggest hurdle they have is finding and securing financial support,” Turkowski said.

Turkoski says 95-99% of businesses in Houston County are small businesses. That’s why the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce is encouraging to minority groups to start their own businesses.

“In our community, only 1.7% of the businesses or the firms are African American owned, 81% are white, and 20% are minority, but of the minority, only 1.7% are African American owned,” Turkoski said.

The chamber of commerce regularly holds community outreach events at its building in Dothan to help spread awareness about economic and entrepreneurship opportunities. The events are free.

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