Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Business

Small businesses rev up hiring after months of uncertainty

NEW YORK — Nina Vaca is interviewing job applicants at her staffing company again after putting hiring on hold at the end of last year.

Vaca expects to hire more than 50 people for her firm, Pinnacle Technical Resources, by the end of 2013. Demand is soaring for the high-tech temporary workers it places at large corporations. The reason for her caution: Months of uncertainty about federal taxes and budget cuts has disappeared.

"It's a great time to double down. People are looking for information technology talent," says Vaca, whose 160-employee company is based in Dallas.

Vaca's story will sound familiar to small-business owners across the country. They want to add staffers, and many are hiring, but they're taking their time before they commit to a new employee. Their caution helps explain the slow but steady growth in jobs nationwide. Companies of all sizes have added an average of 163,000 jobs a month since March, according to the Labor Department.

Vaca held off expanding her staff while she waited to see what impact federal budget cuts would have on companies. But by the end of the first quarter, she could see that companies needed temporary high-tech workers, and that her business would be strong enough to pay for her own hires. She expects her revenue to rise 12 to 15 percent this year.

"We were cautious in our hiring, and then, literally, (business) exploded," she says.

Some owners are waiting to hire because they need to be sure they can pay salaries and still meet their other expenses — staffing is a flexible expense, but expenditures like rent, taxes and utilities are not.

Startup companies that have little or no revenue can't make many hires unless they get money from investors.

Personify, a Chicago company that makes videoconferencing software, held off hiring late last year in part because investor money was scarce. The economy and the uncertainty over the federal budget and taxes made investors wary, CEO Sanjay Patel says. But the company also has to be cautious because it must answer to investors about how it uses their money.

"We weren't in a situation where we could just grow to our hearts' content," Patel says. "It all had to be justified according to the business plan."

Personify's hiring process has also been slowed by a shortage of skilled job candidates. The company is building a sales and marketing team, but while there are many salespeople around, they're not all qualified to sell a complex high-tech product, Patel says.

"You have to be able to speak confidently about a very new technology when a prospective customers asks about how we do what we do," he says.

A lack of qualified applicants is one of the reasons many small businesses have been slow to hire, according to surveys including the monthly report on hiring by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Patel estimates that he considered 20 to 30 people for three positions he recently filled. The company, which has 26 employees, hired one staffer in December, another in May and has a vice president of marketing arriving this month.

Comments
Downtown’s success creates noisy problem for St. Petersburg

Downtown’s success creates noisy problem for St. Petersburg

Times Staff Writer ST. PETERSBURG — Downtown’s rapid growth has not been without tension between its residents and the businesses and events that draw exuberant crowds. The city, which has been attempting to amend its noise ordinance o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Trademark makes it official: Call it the St. Pete Pier

Trademark makes it official: Call it the St. Pete Pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Today the City Council is set to approve a $15 million construction contract and additional money for the next phase of the new Pier District expected to open in the fall of 2019.But even as council members get ready to commit hundre...
Published: 04/19/18
Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

For nearly 60 years it was breads, cakes and pastries, up before dawn for the Perrone family in Armenia Garden Estates. For a minute it looked like Tampa’s Housewife Bake Shop was going to close, but third-generation owner Tena Perrone said on Wednes...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fed survey finds worries about higher tariffs

Fed survey finds worries about higher tariffs

Associated PressWASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve’s latest national survey has found that U.S. businesses are growing increasingly concerned about the impact higher tariffs could have on their companies and the overall economy. The Fed reported Wednes...
Published: 04/18/18
Most of Tampa Bay’s new liquor licenses won by applicants from South Florida, Tallahassee

Most of Tampa Bay’s new liquor licenses won by applicants from South Florida, Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — The newest batch of quota liquor licenses for the Tampa Bay area will go to applicants from South Florida and Tallahassee. In its annual drawing, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco selected the winners of 51 licen...
Published: 04/18/18
Report: Unemployment assistance in Florida lagged after Hurricane Irma

Report: Unemployment assistance in Florida lagged after Hurricane Irma

Note: This story has been updated with a response from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.In the days and weeks following Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott touted his administration’s preparation and response to one of the worst storms to h...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Dick’s destroying all the guns it pulled from its shelves

Dick’s destroying all the guns it pulled from its shelves

PITTSBURGH — Dick’s Sporting Goods is destroying all the guns and accessories that it stopped selling earlier this year after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.The retailer said Tuesday that it is in the process of destroying all the firearms ...
Published: 04/18/18
Amazon partners with Best Buy on smart TVs

Amazon partners with Best Buy on smart TVs

Associated PressNEW YORK — Amazon has cut a deal to sell voice-controlled TVs at Best Buy, the latest attempt by the online retailer to get its burgeoning suite of tech products out where people can see and touch them. Best Buy already sells the Amaz...
Published: 04/18/18