East Texas experiencing growth in small businesses and rise in employment

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Hard at work, Gwen Edwards is one of the many small business owners rebounding in a strengthening economy.

"There's so many small businesses that has come in, and they are just helping Lufkin out a lot," said Edwards.

Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce President, Jerry Huffman, says the growth of small business is helping lower the number of people out of work in Lufkin.

"The vast majority of new jobs are created by small business," said Huffman.

Edwards is in the business of selling signs, shirts, stamps, and more. She says she's ran a successful business for 29 years. However, the tough economy, she says, did create some hardships.

"We've held our own through the hard times. Basically, we've always had a fair amount of growth," said Edwards.

The unemployment rate has dipped to 7.2 percent, the lowest in nearly three years. However, more than four thousand East Texans have dropped out of the job search in the last year.

"The fact that we're showing there are more people employed, I would say that the biggest reason they're leaving unemployment is they're becoming employed," said Workforce Solutions Planning and Operations Director, Marilyn Hartsook.

Hartsook is seeing more start-up businesses because of the regained trust in the current economy.

"It could be just more optimism. People are buying, spending money," said Hartsook.

"There are always companies that have jobs available. We're just seeing a few more than we've normally seen in quite some time," said Huffman.

Now, Huffman and other leaders are turning their focus to helping small businesses make East Texas their home. According to Hartsook, some of the fastest rebounding occupations include sales, healthcare, office, and administrative positions. So, she says it's no surprise to her to see more small retail businesses growing.

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