Economic Development, Food Service & Agriculture, and Small Business & Startups

Michigan businesses remain positive MBPA survey finds

September 9, 2012
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Ask three people for opinions on the strength of the state’s economy and you might get three different answers.

Ask members of one of the state’s largest business organizations, however, and the response is pretty consistent: Things are looking up.

Despite uncertainties that remain in the economy, many businesses have a growing optimism, according to a member survey conducted by the Michigan Business and Professional Association and its sister organization, the Michigan Food and Beverage Association.

MBPA is the state’s largest business organization of small to medium-sized businesses, with more than 20,000 members that employ more than 200,000 people. MFBA has more than 3,400 members.

Most survey participants report they will remain in the state and make improvements to their businesses.

Continuing 2011’s positive trend, 50 percent of members reported improved business in the past year, and 60 percent anticipate further success in the coming year. Almost half of respondents maintained staffing levels from last year, and they foresee retaining a consistent work force next year.

These numbers reflect a modest uptick compared to last year’s results, which showed that just 40 percent of those surveyed said their business health improved year-to-year.

“Before a trend can truly establish itself, it must demonstrate some predictability,” said Jennifer Kluge, president and CEO of both associations.

“We have three years of data demonstrating optimism about the future of Michigan’s economy. That, coupled with a resolve among business owners to maintain their roots in the state, is a reason for optimism.”

The number of businesses expecting to make significant changes in their practices is half what it was a year ago, Kluge added. She takes that as a sign that drastic cost-cutting measures are easing and might lead to new investment in the state.

According to the survey results, only one in five respondents stated they expect Michigan’s business climate to continue to decline before it improves. The others are expecting noticeable improvement or consistency in the near future.

“That half our members have seen their businesses improve in the last year and that 60 percent expect their businesses to improve next year is a very good sign,” said Kluge.

“This projection is consistent with other surveys of Michigan business owners that show the state’s recovery is gaining momentum. There is positive news from many sectors regarding sales, forecasts, profits, hiring, wages and prospects for growth in the coming months.”

The survey reveals what a cross section of MBPA and MFBA members think about current and future business conditions.

  • 35 percent reported hiring staff within the past year, and 29 percent plan to increase staff in the next year.

  • 15 percent considered relocating to another state, compared to 16 percent in the 2011 survey and 19 percent in 2010.

  • 33 percent predicted that Michigan’s business climate in the next year will begin to noticeably improve.

Kluge said the MBPA and MFBA are working hard in Lansing to improve the business climate in the state. She credits eliminating the Michigan Business Tax as a significant win for business.

“It is important to remind lawmakers that when small businesses are healthy, the economy is healthy,” said Kluge, noting that a May 2012 report by the Small Business Administration and National Economic Council indicates that over the last two decades, small and new businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs.

MBPA members include attorneys, physicians, architects, accountants, construction companies, banks, retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, all of which were part of this year’s survey.

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