Last October in this section, Jodie Perry of the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce pointed out the impact of small businesses on our economy — accounting for 54 percent of all sales, 55 percent of all jobs, and 66 percent of new jobs.Many of these businesses are well-established and sometimes multi-generational, but a significant number are relatively new.Sadly, a CNN Money Report from September tells us that new business creation is at a 40-year low. After three decades of 500,000-600,000 annual business startups, that figure dipped to 452,835 in 2014 (the last year U.S. Census data is available).What are the causes of small business failures? Three of the reasons are 1) population decline, 2) competition from mega-businesses and 3) excessive government regulation.Population decline is a matter of arithmetic. Fewer people means fewer potential customers. And population growth in both Ohio and Richland County has lagged behind other areas.Secondly, large corporations such as the so-called “big box” stores have the buying power that small businesses can’t match, making smaller businesses less price-competitive. This has particularly had a big impact on independent retailers.Thirdly, all businesses have seen an increase in government regulation and paperwork over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, small businesses usually have the same paperwork requirements as large businesses. Large corporations that have entire departments dedicated to dealing with various levels of bureaucracy and compliance, but small businesses have to fend for themselves. It is common for small business owners to spend as much as one-half of their time drowning in a sea of paperwork.Are there any efforts going on locally to help small businesses?Richland County is fortunate to have three efforts underway to reverse the trend of small business failure and subsequent loss of jobs. Be Focal Buy Local encourages people to patronize local businesses.The Richland Entrepreneurship Alliance is coordinating the efforts of entrepreneurial support organizations. And the Braintree Business Development Center is focusing on some of the startups that have the most potential for growth — technology-focused entrepreneurs.Be Focal Buy Local, created by Richland Community Development Group and Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, encourages shoppers to patronize local businesses instead of driving out of town or making internet purchases.Ignoring local businesses results in job losses and a loss of tax revenues that could be used to support infrastructures like schools, police forces, and fire protection. According to www.chooserichland.com, just a 3.5% increase in local spending would create an additional $612,500 in local tax revenue.In 2015, the Richland County Foundation instituted an initiative to expand its philanthropic efforts to include economic development activities. This resulted in funding for three related economic development efforts: business retention, workforce development, and entrepreneurship.Support for entrepreneurship resulted in the creation of the Richland Entrepreneurship Alliance, which I am involved in as CEO of Braintree, to coordinate assistance for entrepreneurs in Richland County.In addition to the traditional entrepreneur support groups like the Small Business Development Center, Braintree, and SCORE, there are additional active members that can play a role in the success of small business. The group meets regularly to review the needs of individual small businesses, particularly startups, to determine which organizations are best positioned to provide the resources they need.And, of course, there is Braintree. Starting in 1986 as Mansfield-Richland Incubator, we have been the Mansfield area’s hub for entrepreneurship for 30 years.Braintree was one of the first seven incubators funded through Ohio’s Thomas Edison Technology Program. Three years ago that program transitioned into Ohio’s Third Frontier Program. But its goal remains to help Ohio companies turn innovative ideas into viable businesses.More than 100 companies have started at the incubator, including well-known Mansfield-area businesses like Midwest Aircraft Products, Goyal Industries, Graywacke Engineering, Hess Industries, and Localynx.Braintree looks forward to continuing to create jobs, wealth, and opportunities for our area’s business community. Interested entrepreneurs can check out the many resources and events at www.braintreepartners.org.So as you can see, the Mansfield area has its challenges. Business failures, job loss, and population loss cannot be turned around overnight. But rest assured that there are competent individuals "on the case."