Advance Thief River Releases Report
During the summer of 2022, between June 9 and August 25, interviews were conducted with Advance Thief River member businesses and organizations. The purpose was to determine economic conditions, as they are being perceived or experienced by businesses and organizations within the Thief River Falls area. A total of 36 interviews were conducted. The 2022 Economic Conditions report summarizes the interview findings.
The first interview question asked, “what best describes your business type?” Service businesses were the predominant type, representing thirty-six percent of all responses. The “Other” type was close behind, representing one-third of all responses. Within the “Other” category, specific business types included publishing, construction, engineering, finance, government, housing, nonprofit, social services, warehousing/wholesale, and developers. Eleven percent of respondents were manufacturers and another eleven percent were in retail. Additional business types included agriculture, transportation, and warehouse/distribution.
Number of Years in Business
The second question asked businesses how many years they had been in business. Responses to this question indicate that the area is a place where businesses and organizations can be successful, with more that half of all respondents reporting they have been in business more than 30 years.
Number of Employees
The third question asked “how many employees does your company have?” The largest percentage of respondents (20%) reported having between two and five employees. The second largest percentage of respondents (17%) reported having more than 200 employees.
The fourth question asked, “where is your company headquarters located?” Seventy-one percent of respondents reported that their company headquarters is in Thief River Falls, MN. Of those reporting that their company headquarters was located elsewhere, locations listed included: Apple Valley, MN; Sioux Falls, SD; Fargo, ND; Grand Forks, ND; Holt, MN; Plummer, MN; St. Cloud, MN; St. Louis, MO; and Viking, MN.
Rating the Area as a Place to do Business
The fifth question asked, “in general, how would you rate the Thief River Falls area as a place to do business?” Respondents were asked to rate the area as excellent, good, fair, or poor. Fifty-five percent rated the Thief River Falls area as a “good” place to do business. Thirty-three percent rated the area as an “excellent” place to do business, and eleven percent rated it as a “fair” place to do business.
Strengths of Doing Business in the Area
The sixth question asked respondents to talk about the strengths of doing business in the area. Noteworthy strengths (those mentioned numerous times) include the following:
- A community with strong economic opportunities (mentioned eleven times)
- Strong community connections and relationships (ten times)
- A community with strong quality-of-life attributes (six times)
- People are trustworthy and hardworking (five times)
- Small-town atmosphere (four times)
- A community that supports businesses (four times)
- People in the area have good income levels and good credit (three times)
Weaknesses of Doing Business in the Area
The seventh question asked respondents to talk about the weaknesses of doing business in the area. Noteworthy weaknesses (those mentioned numerous times) include the following:
- Labor shortage (mentioned fifteen times)
- Remote geographic location (eight times)
Biggest Challenge Facing Your Business
Question eight asked “what is the biggest challenge facing your business?” By far and away, the challenges noted most often were related to finding and retaining employees:
- Finding and retaining employees (mentioned twenty-one times)
- Supply chain issues and lack of inventory (four times)
- Inflation (three times)
Question nine asked respondents “which of the following best describes your plans for your workforce in the coming months?” Respondents were asked if they were planning to increase staff, keep staffing stable, or decrease staff. Fifty-seven percent are planning to increase staff and forty-three percent plan to keep staffing stable. No respondents plan to decrease staff.
Question twelve asked, “does your company have plans for new investments?” Seventy percent of respondents reported plans for new investments.
Investments are planned for renovation and/or expansion of current facilities, major equipment purchases, and new facilities.
The majority of these investments are estimated to occur within one year and will occur at the current business location.