If you’ve ever written a business plan or applied for a grant, you know how crucial it is to find the demographics you need — fast! Thanks to some awesome tools from the Census Bureau, the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments and the CCPL Business Center’s online library, you can find a wide variety of local, state, and national figures in a snap. I’ll demonstrate how to find the statistics you need with DemographicsNow, the BCDCOG’s Binary Bus application, and American Factfinder.
When: Wednesday, October 13th, from 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Where: Main Library, 68 Calhoun Street
For more information, email the Reference Department at email@example.com, or call us at 805-6930. Hope to see you there!
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After the 18th annual South Carolina Industry Appreciation Week last week, we spent some time thinking about our local industries.
Facts about Charleston’s Business Community:
- Charleston County has 11,959 business establishments as of 20061
- 179,971 workers were employed by these establishments in 20061
- Gross sales by Charleston County businesses were $12,880,870,684 during fiscal year 2005-061
- The top 5 industries in Charleston County by number of establishments are: Retail, Other Services (except public administration), Construction, and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services.2
I took some time to reflect on what we’ve done so far this year in the Business Center to help support entrepreneurs in our area. Here’s what I discovered:
- SORE Counselors have helped at least 38 people in 12 visits to the Business Center in 2008
- The Business Center has helped 54 individuals with involved business questions and helped answer 18 questions from patrons at other library branches.
- The Business Notes email newsletter has 217 subscribers as of this week.
- 200 people have attended the 14 business reference events held so far in 2008 at the Main Library
- I’ve had the opportunity to tell 67 people about our resources at 4 speaking engagements this year. (Two more chances for me to talk to folks are on the way next week!)
- 57 volumes were added to the Business Center reference collection in August alone.
- CCPL had added three online business resources in 2008: the DemographicsNow database, the Everyday Finance ebook, and the Small Business Resource Center, courtesy of the SC State Library’s DISCUS project.
We’re thrilled to have made a difference in the lives of everyone we’ve helped so far this year, and I look forward to working with even more of you in the months to come!
12008 South Carolina Statistical Abstract
2 2006 County Business Patterns, US Census Bureau
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It’s Part 2 of the Essential Sources series, and we’re back in the world of statistics for another post. Both of these titles are published by New Strategist Publications and offer easier access to BLS data.
Best Customers is another work based on the BLS’s Consumer Expenditures Survey. This book looks at spending patterns by demographic characteristics of households. It has a fairly extensive scope, including 300 common products and services. It is organized by housholder’s age, income, household type, and region of the country. It is even easier to read than Household Spending, since the tables are especially clear and explanations of terms appear on the tables themselves. These statistics have a variety of good uses. Most importantly, small business owners can use the information to decide which types of householders are most likely to spend money on their product or service, which is an effective way to organize a marketing campaign.
American Men & Women draws its data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Educational Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the General Social Survey of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. Like Best Customers, this book is highly readable and offers all kinds of statistics about men as a group and women as a group. Many products and services appeal more stongly to one group than the other, so statistics that help the enterepreneur figure out if marketing and promotional materials need to appeal to one over the other.
We have one more statistics source to cover next time before we head into other kinds of our most frequently used Business Center resources.
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Here at the library, we field a lot of the same kinds of question about business. Most of our patrons are in various stages of planning a small business, so as a result, we tend to use some of the same books over and over again to solve the same problems. “Essential Sources” will be a semi-regular series of posts to profile the resources that we use routinely and just couldn’t get along without.
Our first source starts us off with statistics. Yes, feel free to groan a little. We don’t think statistics makes for fun light reading, either, but finding a statistic is a do-or-die kind of question for researchers. Either someone collects it and we can find it somewhere…or no one does and we can’t and if you still need it, you’ll have to come up with a way to do it yourself.
Many statistical sources can be intimidating to use, with abbreviated column headings, tables that span multiple pages, and distressingly long lag times between data collection and the dissemination of the final set of numbers. We have some great sources in the Business Center that helps to get around most of those problems.
Household Spending, edited by New Strategist Publications, is based on data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their Consumer Expenditure Survey, an ongoing nationwide survey of–you guessed it–household spending. The data covers every type of household and tracks everything from small purchases to big-ticket items. It does not include information about government, business, or institutional spending, so if those groups are in your potential market you must seek what you need elsewhere. There is a lag time of two years, but that seems reasonable if you consider the time it takes for the BLS publish the CE, then for New Strategist to extract the data they want. The primary advantage of using Household Spending instead of the original is ease of use. The BLS publication is aimed at professional economists, not your average small business owner. New Strategist’s version, on the other hand, is a bit easier for the average user and provides things like a glossary and full explanations of how to read the entries. The book is organized by major product or service category. Tables show the age of the householder, household income, household type, racial or Hispanic origin of the householder, and lots of details about what the householder spends on those products or services.
Next up for “Essential Sources” will be other New Strategist titles, Best Customers and American Men and Women.
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