Economic Development

Survey gauges state's business climate

October 19, 2012
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A semi-annual survey of Michigan businesses designed to monitor the state’s economy and business development is being sent out this week.

The survey is commissioned by the Michigan Business Network and executed by the Marketing Resource Group. It is sent to a random sampling of Michigan businesses with 500 employees or less.

This is the second year for the project, said Paul King, director of research services at Marketing Resource Group.

King said what started out as a telephone survey reaching 600 businesses has turned into a cheaper, quicker and more expansive way to perform a survey: online.

“We’re finding in these situations, online surveys work the best, especially e-mail. We’re getting a better response rate,” King said. “In June of 2012, we got a pretty good cross section of businesses and conducted almost 900 interviews the last time around.”

The survey, which takes about five to 10 minutes to complete, covers a number of different issues regarding the business outlook in West Michigan, King said. Results should be available by mid-November, he added.

Researchers are especially interested in how optimistic local business owners are. King said he’s hopeful that if owners are more optimistic, they will begin hiring additional employees.

“Our hope is to keep our finger on the pulse of the business community and know what people are thinking,” he said. “It helps them to know if there’s a market out there or an environment for their own business. It’s just another tool for the business community to know what’s going on in the state.”

This mission to aggregate information to the public is important to Chris Holman, publisher of the Greater Lansing Business Monthly and CEO of the Michigan Business Network.

“The beauty of this thing is it’s deeper than a guess,” he said. “It’s based on fact, taking gut level out of it and putting in science.”

Holman said the survey, which is “reasonably expensive,” is funded through the Accident Fund Insurance Co.

“Typically in these situations, business-to-business surveys have a lower response rate than consumer surveys,” King said. “It’s usually about 25 percent, so you have to make four or five phone calls to just get one interview.”

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