Small business owners see signs of economic recovery

July 5, 2011
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Tangible signs of an economic recovery are starting to show in the form of positive responses to membership surveys of small business owners in Michigan.

The Michigan Business and Professional Association and the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, which have a combined membership of approximately 23,400 businesses employing more than 200,000 people, in April and May surveyed members on staffing, office space, new markets, relocation and the general health of their business.

Forty percent of those responding said the health of their business improved within the past year, and 61 percent said they believe the health of their business will improve in the coming year.

This compared to just 22 percent reporting a healthy business last year and 50 percent expecting improvement in the coming year.

“This is good news coming from a major component of our state’s economy — small business. They are more positive about the state’s economic future,” said Jennifer Kluge, president and CEO of both associations.

She also pointed out that 34 percent of those responding thought the state’s overall business climate would “noticeably improve” in the coming year.

“I take this as a sign that our state government and its quick movement to eliminate the Michigan Business Tax and get new business initiatives into the pipeline are giving business owners hope,” Kluge said.

But business owners aren’t sitting back and waiting for the state’s efforts to pay off. Many told the MBPA/MFBA that during the past year they responded to a challenging economy by investing in new technology, restructuring debt, strengthening branding and marketing efforts, and adding new services and products, Kluge said.

This year’s survey also offered insight into how business owners feel about current economic conditions:

  • 27 percent increased staff within the past year.

  • 34 percent planned to increase staff in the next year.

  • 16 percent have considered moving to another state (compared to 19 percent in the 2010 survey).

  • 39 percent said they were planning significant changes in the next year, such as increasing office space and expanding into new markets.

Kluge said she was pleased with the “generally positive” results of the survey, but cautioned that the state’s small business community still faces many challenges.

“Members said that gas and energy-related prices, the rising cost of health care insurance and increased government regulations are negative factors affecting their business,” she said.

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