New data illustrate small firms’ impact on the Florida economy

By Jeffrey Cassady -

It’s no secret that small businesses play a sizable role in the Florida economy. Recent numbers from the U.S. Small Business Administration illustrate that point.

According to the SBA’s annual “Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories” report, Florida is home to close to 2.2 million small businesses, defined as companies that employ fewer than 500 people.

Further, those small businesses employ a significant chunk of the state’s workforce. Nearly 405,000 of Florida’s 2.2 million small businesses employ workers, and they provide jobs for roughly 40 percent of the state’s approximately 3 million-strong labor force, according to the report.

Brandon Mayer, Sweetwater Landing Marina
Brandon Mayer (right), a 2014 management graduate of FGCU's Lutgert College of Business, is among the growing number of young entrepreneurs nationwide. In 2014, Mayer became the new owner of Sweetwater Landing, a marina providing dry and wet boat storage in Fort Myers, thanks to the assistance of FSBDC at FGCU business consultant Norm Jacobson (left).

SBA data also show how small businesses affect Florida’s standing in the world economy. According to the report, 95 percent of the 61,848 Florida companies that exported goods and/or services in 2012 were small businesses. Further, those small businesses accounted for 68.6 percent of export value that year.

There are other reasons to be optimistic about the state of small business in Florida and the country as a whole. For instance, entrepreneurship, which took a dive after the Great Recession of 2007-09, is on the rise, according to a report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor,

The study, which looked at 200,000 people in more than 70 countries, found that approximately 14 percent of Americans were either running or founding a company in 2014. That’s up from 7.6 percent in 2010 – a post-recession low.

Leading the charge are young people. Millennials – those who reached adulthood in the early 2000s – are the age group most likely to start a new company, the study found. In fact, nearly a fifth of those between 25 and 34 years old engaged in entrepreneurial activities in 2013.

Jeffrey Cassady is a writer for the Haas Center and Florida SBDC Network. He covers Florida business and economic issues.