Experts in New Jersey may point to a decline in jobs (see letter to the editor from the NJBIA, page 2) and warn that state government needs to do more to encourage business. But the statistics for U.S. 1’s annual progress edition show almost no change from years past.
For this edition U.S. 1’s editors painstakingly count the number of articles we wrote in each industry, including the number of start-ups and expansions and the number of companies that move in from other places. This year we re-interviewed leaders from a dozen companies to find out what had changed since we wrote about them, and what they had learned.
For instance, we talked to Bob Baldwin, the CFO of Heartland Payment Systems, who was on the cover on January 11, 2006. Baldwin told how Heartland had its first “billion dollar week” last month, and how it had added 26,500 merchant clients to its rosters.
Not 30 minutes after we got off the phone with Baldwin, Beverly Kidder, of Decorator’s Consignment Gallery of Railroad Place, called U.S. 1. She wanted to change her charge-card provider, and she remembered last January’s article but had forgotten the name of the company. We were happy to oblige.
Now for the numbers: The only statistically important change between 2006 and 2005 is the number of start-up companies. In 2005 we wrote about 52 start-ups, and in 2006 we covered 31 start-ups.
A decrease in the number of brand-new companies, we should point out, could be positive: Perhaps fewer people lost their jobs and had to go off on their own.
Among those start-ups, the percentage of home-based businesses remains the same: one-fourth.
Other areas were consistent: Seventy-eight businesses counted as “New in Town” in 2006, almost exactly equal to 79 in 2005. About 144 businesses expanded in 2006, statistically the same as 139 in 2005.
The flip side of growth also remained constant. In 2005, there were 109 examples of companies that showed negative growth, compared to 116 in 2006, when 81 companies left town, 26 downsized, and 9 went out of business.
Note that just because a company left town does not mean it isn’t flourishing elsewhere, and that a downsizing in physical space does not necessarily mean a drop in revenues. It could merely indicate a more efficient use of space — or more people working from home.
Last year the expansion reports were dominated by information technology firms, and that was true for this year as well. About 20 of the 144 expansions were IT companies (page 42).
The biggest difference in coverage was in the financial area. In 2004 we wrote about 73 financial firms. In 2005 there were 101 articles on financial-related firms. In 2006, that number dropped in half, to 51 articles (see page 46).
In Progress Edition statistics, we also should note, no news can sometimes be good news.