Small business employment is on the rise in Midlothian and across Ellis County. And so are small business loans.

Larry Barnett, Midlothian Economic Development President, recognizes the small-business growth throughout the Midlothian community. He noted factors such as quality schools and location to the DFW Metroplex make it very attractive to developers.

“Midlothian is in a high-growth mode with residential housing, which is increasing the population. This growth has been driven by our excellent schools, but also the proximity to DFW,” Barnett said. “Our central location provides quick access to both commercial airports and most work locations for our residents. It has also spurred businesses of all types to look at Midlothian for expansion, and growth certainly provides the opportunity for small businesses to capitalize.”

Barnett explained Midlothian does not only see growth along U.S. Highway 287 and in the southern area of the city with developments like the Midlothian Towne Crossing, but expansion is also happening in downtown. He expects growth to continue in the Walnut Grove area once the new U.S. Highway 287 Intersection project is complete.

Debbie Hunt, who is an independent operator at New Day Salon and Spa in Midlothian, stated she went into business for herself because it gives her a chance to provide for other people. She attributes rise in small businesses in the county is because people enjoy the small town feel but success involves a lot of hard work.

“There is a lot of perseverance and sacrificing but it is worth it,” Hunt said. “You have also got to find a balance in work. Find time to take a vacation and enjoy life. You have got to do that no matter what business you’re in.”

Numbers recently released by the U.S. Small Business Administration reflect the trend is taking place across the community. The administration works with potential and current business owners to start, build, and grow businesses. One way the administration aids businesses is by offering loans.

The loans offered by the SBA are up 18.5 percent in dollars and 8.5 percent in units compared to the same period last year in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex as of Dec. 31, 2017. The value of these loans equals $325 million to 498 small businesses. For the first quarter of 2018, the SBA has approved four loans totaling $1.4 million. Last year Ellis County received 22 small business loans that totaled $16.4 million. These loans created 116 jobs and retained 241.

According to Forbes, there are almost 28 million small businesses in the U.S. and over 50 percent of the population — roughly 120 million — work in a small business. These businesses have also generated more than 65 percent of the net new jobs since 1995.

Jose Flores, the manager at Mo’s Italian Café and Deli, feels what is driving people to become their own boss is the dream that it provides. He hopes to have that freedom for himself one day.

“It is one of those things where they can set their schedule and make time for their family and not having to work for somebody else,” Flores said. “It is something that I aspire to reach one day to open my own food truck or have my own little restaurant.”

Flores shared another factor that helps these new businesses become successful is the positive experience they generate for the customer.

“It is essential to establish that relationship with the customer. On top of the relationship you have got to have great food and service, and that is going to make them come back every time,” Flores explained. “I feel like once we have built that relationship everything else will fall into place.”

Jane Nelson, the owner of the Flower Shoppe, has been in business for the past seven years after a career as a teacher. Nelson stated part of the reason for the growth in small businesses in the county is because of the economy but does not know how much of that is affecting Midlothian directly. She shared Flores thoughts about customer service and the role repeat business play in a stores' success.

"Getting people to know that we are here and understand what we have to offer is a big thing for us,” Nelson. “It takes time to build your business, and it will take a little while to do that. That is the most important thing.”

Ennis Economic Development Coordinator Marty Nelson attributes the growth in the business community to the combination of amenities a city has to offer future residents and businesses. He noted this combination makes the town a very appealing place to live and work.

“Another factor working in our favor is the negative aspects of urban sprawl," Nelson said. "As the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex gets denser and denser and traffic gets more and more congested, people look for alternatives. Ellis County has several cities easily accessible to the Metroplex but far enough away to maintain the small town feel and character.”

Nelson stated there are a plethora of opportunities for investment and development.