LEFT TO RIGHT: Young Designs Floral Studio co-owners Hattie Young and Sarah Young, Newport City Councilor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano and business assistance and marketing officer at SEED Corp. Jessica Mello, during the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce's 2022 Business Walk survey event. / COURTESY GREATER NEWPORT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE NEWPORT — More than half of local businesses report growing sales and stable employment in a new survey by the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, though inflation and a lack of workforce housing are significant concerns for many.
The survey, held in late October and released this week, includes responses from 60 businesses in Barrington, Bristol, Jamestown, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton. Participants were interviewed in person by small teams that included elected officials and members of economic-development groups.
'Overall, businesses in the Greater Newport Region reported that they had a great 2022 peak season, and are growing, but they continue to face some challenges related to the tight labor market, inflation and supply chain shortages,' said Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce Director Erin Donovan-Boyle.
Last year, 72% said they were 'very confident' about future success.
This year, some of the questions differed slightly. Among those surveyed, 60% described the state of their business as 'great and growing,' 57% said their staffing has remained level since 2021. Additionally, 94% of businesses were happy with their location, referring to the area itself as their favorite part of doing business locally.
But while staffing stayed level for more than half of participants, 65% said they continue to struggle to find workers and remained concerned about employee retention. A major contributor to this anxiety was a lack of workforce housing available for rent or purchase, according to the report. Last year, about half had difficulty finding and retaining workers or experienced significant difficulties from supply chain disruptions.
The second most common concern this year was inflation, which 51% of businesses identified as a significant challenge.
This year marked the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce's third Business Walk survey and event. Results will inform the organization's upcoming 2023 regional economic work.
Based on feedback so far, the Chamber is focusing on providing networking and professional-development resources; increasing collaboration with state agencies and education institutions; assisting businesses with e-commerce and other technology initiatives; and talent retention and attraction campaigns focused on quality of life in the Greater Newport region.
Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at EMAIL.
Want to share this story? Click Here to purchase a link that allows anyone to read it on any device whether or not they are a subscriber.