First Business economic survey results: Optimism high for 2010

Posted on Dec 18, 2009 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
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Posted by of Insight Publications

University
of Wisconsin-Oshkosh professor Al Hartman didn’t mince words Thursday at the
First Business Economic Forum of Northeast Wisconsin: “It’s not a big surprise,
but 2009 was a bad year.”

Hartman,
a professor of management in the College of Business, was sharing the results
of a survey sponsored by UW-Oshkosh and First Business Bank of more than 350
business leaders from throughout the New North regarding their thoughts on 2009
and their hopes for 2010.

Across
all sectors, businesses reported general declines in eight indicators,
including sales revenue; profitability; total operating costs as a percentage
of revenue; capital expenditures; number of employees; overall wage changes;
changes in pricing; and operating capacity.

More
than 50 percent of companies reported they didn’t meet expectations while 42
percent had fewer workers in 2009 than in 2008. The sharpest declines were seen
in manufacturing, B2B sectors and companies who sell products only in the
Midwest.

But
despite a bad 2009, businesses are optimistic about the year ahead and
expecting higher sales and profits while adding employees.

“Businesses
are very positive about the future,” Hartman told a group of more than 120
business people from throughout the Fox Valley gathered at Butte des Morts
Country Club. “I guess you could argue that things can’t get any worse, but
people are genuinely optimistic about what’s to come.”

Just
how positive are companies?

·       
85
percent expect next year’s business performance to beat 2009 results

·       
All
survey participants expect sales and profits to increase in 2010

·       
Employers
expect to add more workers in 2010

Corey
Chambas, president and CEO with First Business Bank Financial Services, was surprised to see so
much optimism. “I haven’t seen it yet myself with clients, but I welcome it.
It’s definitely a refreshing change,” he says.

And
it’s one everyone is waiting for.

Editor's note:View the First Business Economic Survey Forum on our website at http://tinyurl.com/ygljb3b.

– MaryBeth
Matzek