Small business is the backbone of almost every community not only in Kankakee County, but throughout the nation.

In the pre-COVID-19 year of 2018 — in particular, small business — the economy was largely strong and was pushing ahead.

COVID did not become part of our vocabulary until the later months of 2019 when it began to be an issue in Asia and other parts of the world. COVID did not take its grip of the United States until early 2020.

According to a report from Roofstock, a real estate investment group based in Oakland, Calif., which is a company primarily focused on buyers and sellers of single-family homes, noted in a report looking at startup business activity across the country that Kankakee County experienced growth.

It wasn’t major growth activity, but it was growth nonetheless.

According to its data, new startups in Kankakee County created 576 new jobs in 2018.

Nationwide, more than 423,000 startups accounted for 2.2 million new jobs in 2018.

How many of those startups will survive the significant hardships brought on by the pandemic and the prolonged government-mandated shutdowns of businesses — mainly small businesses — cannot yet be judged.

Entrepreneurship in the U.S. has been declining for decades as massive retailers and other businesses have placed a stranglehold on the marketplace.

In the late 1970s, the startup formation rate in the U.S. — defined as the number of new firms in a given year divided by the total number of firms — was nearly 14 percent. Forty years later, the rate was at 8.1 percent.

The report showed that Kankakee County’s startup formulation rate was 4.66 percent. New startup businesses in Kankakee County accounted for 11.97 percent of new jobs.

The nation’s startup formulation rate showed that of all new jobs in 2018, 14.1 percent came from startups.

The study indicated due to the pandemic, startup business will likely be suppressed in many business sectors such, most notably food service, accommodation and retail.

While these areas are expected to have slow growth, construction, information and real estate are seen as areas where growth is likely.

The Daily Journal’s Lee Provost writes about local business rumors, comings and goings and other notes of interest. Anyone with information to share should contact Provost at lprovost@daily-journal.com or 815-937-3364.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.