Shelby County Business Licenses See Slight Decline

By Andy Meek

The Shelby County Clerk’s Office issued 5,520 business licenses in 2012, a 4 percent drop from 2011, when 5,751 licenses were filed in the county, according to The Daily News Online,

The number of business licenses filed from one year to the next tends to bounce up and down instead of holding to a steady pattern. They aren’t an absolute guidepost, because the filings reflect both renewals of existing licenses in addition to the sheen of newness – or lack of it – in the local small-business community.

Because the totals include filings representing new ventures, one value in looking at the licenses is they give some sense of the degree of confidence in launching a new enterprise in Shelby County.

Proprietors planning to do business in Shelby County can file the license from any location, even outside the county. And in 2012, those licenses covered a wide range of sectors, with a large focus on service industries.

The entrepreneurial activity in 2012 was spread around Shelby County broadly. Hickory Hill North’s 38115 ZIP code led the way in business licenses filed in 2012, with 288. That was followed by 257 filings in Southeast Shelby County’s 38125. After that, there were 254 filings in 38016 (Cordova), 252 filings in 38118 (Oakhaven/Parkway Village) and 250 filings in 38111 (University of Memphis).

April saw the most filings with 548. June was the slowest month with 282.

This year could see more activity, because there’s a lot on the way that could help give small-business owners a helping hand.

The Greater Memphis Chamber launched its Small Business Council in 2007, especially geared toward small- and medium-sized businesses. Of the more than 2,400 member businesses, about 90 percent of the membership has fewer than 100 employees.

The council launched its 2013 program last week, with a presentation by Dr. Martin Regalia, U.S. Chamber senior vice president for economic and tax policy and the chamber’s chief economist.

The chamber also announced it’s launching three major small business-related programs this year.

“For a long time, the perception was that all we did for the small-business community was breakfasts, lunches and mixers,” said John Duncan, the chamber’s vice president of member development.

“Those things are important, but we wanted to offer a lot more. Bring in higher-level, high-quality speakers with content that is meaningful and offer products and programming to help small businesses prosper.”

Those three new programs are Advice on Tap, ChamberLinks and a mentorship program.

For Advice on Tap, the chamber will set up free, one-time 30-minute consultations between industry experts and advice-seekers. The goal will be to help area businesses grow by connecting them to people who can answer their most pressing questions.

ChamberLinks will be a resource on the chamber’s website launching by this summer that gives chamber members access to contract and vendor opportunities, including the qualifications and criteria required for those jobs.

The chamber also is launching a six-month mentoring program, where veteran business leaders are paired with small-business professionals and owners for a minimum of two-hour sessions per month. It will provide an opportunity for business executives to give back to the business community and a chance for small-business owners to get expert insight for their business.

That program will launch later this year.