States Small Businesses Optimistic

September 22, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — A recent National City Bank survey of small businesses in Michigan found that 42 percent of small businesses planned to increase staff within the next six months, while only 8 percent of respondents in a national poll five months ago said they planned to hire additional staff.

The National City survey further revealed that 79 percent of small businesses in Michigan expect the economy will improve in the next six months and 48 percent planned to expand business operations in the next six months.

In a national survey of 1,400 small business owners conducted in March and April by the National Federation of Independent Business, 11 percent of business owners at that time said they considered it a bad time to expand their operations.

The economic survey was part of National City’s “Small Business Super Blitz” carried out Aug. 20, which targeted 1,700 small businesses across the state that had been singled out as prospective clients by National City banking officers.

During the one-day blitz, National City small business banking officers, branch managers and executives paid visits to all those businesses, personally delivering information on the bank’s products and services.

More than 1,000 of the 1,700 businesses contacted participated in the survey, which was intended to give National City a sense of the 2004 economic outlook from the perspective of small business owners.

All National City business lines were represented in the blitz — including Corporate Banking, Private Client Group, Private Investment Advisors, Armada Funds, Treasury Management and National City Card Services.

Sean Welsh, regional president for Grand Rapids, Holland and Muskegon, said small business owners by nature are an opportunist group and that they just tend to be optimistic.

“It’s good to see they have a positive outlook on the economy. They are probably one of the biggest driving engines in the economy today.”

In his day-to-day dealings with the small business community, Welsh said he’s been hearing the same thing from small to mid-sized businesses.

“They feel we’re starting to come out of this rather long recession. They are seeing signs of orders picking up, releases starting to be authorized for new products and things. There seems to be some consensus that the end is in sight and that the signs are there that it’s starting to turn around for us.”

Timothy Lathe, National City Bank of Michigan’s president and CEO, said serving small business is a priority for National City. “The bottom line of this blitz and all our efforts is to win customers from our competitors, first meeting the needs of small business owners and then becoming their bank of choice for personal accounts,” he said.    

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