2018 was a strong year for Northeast Wisconsin business owners and many expect 2019 to be just as robust.
Although businesses dealt with uncertainties with international trade issues and market fluctuations, 68 percent of Northeast Wisconsin business leaders reported meeting or exceeding their goals in 2018, according to the annual First Business Bank Economic Survey of Northeastern Wisconsin.
The survey focuses on the current year’s actual and next year’s predicted: sales revenue, total operating costs, capital expenditures, profitability, number of employees and changes in wages and pricing. First Business Bank underwrites the survey to help business owners plan for the coming year.
“It was a great year for businesses in Northeast Wisconsin,” says Rick Hearden, president of the Northeast Wisconsin Market of First Business Bank. “Of particular note is a record-breaking sales increase in 2018, and it speaks volumes to me that 94 percent of survey respondents expect the same or better performance in 2019.”
Survey participants reported a historic increase in sales during 2018, with 80 percent stating they had an actual sales increase, up from 62 percent in 2017. When it comes to hiring more workers, 49 percent of business leaders reported adding more employees in 2018 and 63 percent reported increasing wages.
“Despite an increase in financial market volatility, 2018 will go into the record books as one of the best in the nine and a half years of economic expansion,” says Nancy Johnshoy, CFA, vice president of First Business Trust and Investments.
Looking ahead to 2019, Hearden says optimism remains strong among business leaders, with 94 percent expecting improved or unchanged financial performance. They also predicted higher profits and bringing on more workers.
Looking to the future
Here are some other upcoming economic talks:
The Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Breakfast is scheduled for Feb. 12 and will feature economist Brian Beaulieu. oshkoshchamber.com.
The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 2019 Economic Outlook Lunch on Feb. 14 with keynote speaker Elliot Eisenberg. foxcitieschamber.com.