Service industries in the Lake Norman area are growing, with likely continued expansion in the immediate future.

By definition, businesses in the service industry perform work for a customer, and occasionally provide goods, but they’re not involved in manufacturing. Examples are law firms, accounting firms and consultants.

“We’re seeing expansion in those areas,” said Bill Russell, president and CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

The lake-area growth is a reflection of a national trend. In 2012, there were 112.7 million service-industry jobs nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2020, that number is projected to increase to 130.6 million, an increase of nearly 16 percent.

Russell pointed out three local examples that highlight the growth:

• Jay Lesemann & Associates, an accounting firm in Huntersville. Lesemann, the company’s managing member, is the chairman-elect of the North Carolina Association of CPAs and serves on its executive committee.

• Boatsman, Gillmore and Wagner, which recently merged to become the second-largest CPA firm in the Charlotte region.

“They are growing and very involved in the community,” Russell said.

• Polaris Bookkeeping Services, a Huntersville firm recently expanded.

Lesemann, who has more than 25 years’ experience with companies large and small, said he’s seen an increase in service industries in the lake area.

“Especially with all the layoffs and closings of the larger companies,” he said. “A lot of individuals go out on their own. I think it’s a good thing all around, but it can be frustrating for some people who don’t realize all that’s involved with starting a business.”

Lesemann said service-industry businesses often find a niche they didn’t know existed and learn that they can flourish on their own instead of working for a large corporation. 

Lesemann said Huntersville had about 300-400 building permits issued in 2012, but that number was surpassed in the first quarter of 2013.

“The Lake Norman region is continuing to grow and evolve as a stand-alone society and its reliance on Charlotte amenities seems to diminish every year,” said Mark Bardo, vice president at Allen Tate Realtors. “Professional services such as accountants, attorneys, investment counselors, etc. are plentiful and compare well with Charlotte firms offering the same services. The convenience of meeting face-to-face with a high-quality professional in your neighborhood is very appealing as compared with the need to drive to Charlotte for the same service.”

When large businesses establish themselves locally, service industries soon follow, said Robert Carney, executive director of the Mooresville South Iredell Economic Development Corporation.

“For instance, if we help bring in a manufacturing firm that creates jobs for 250 people, the natural byproduct is that the service industries will follow,” Carney said. “They will need dentists, doctors, lawyers, etc.”

Carney said service industries strategically gravitate toward growth areas. They keep tabs on where large companies establish new operations.

“They’re incredibly dynamic,” he said. “If you need those services in an area, they will gravitate there. They do their homework.”

 Russell said he’s noticed a positive change by monitoring local attorneys’ filings.

“In the past three years, a lot of attorneys were doing filings on businesses that were closing,” he said. “Now they’re filing a lot more for businesses that are being created. We like businesses to be created.”

Said Lesemann: “I see a lot of change (in service industries), but I see a lot of the same, too. When you see change, if it works well, the larger companies often will buy them out. But it does create competition and excitement.”