Daily News: May 20, 2013

Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index Shows Unease

The Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index survey for H1/13 shows growing concern over the economy and strong criticism of government policies by the Chicago area’s mid-size business owners and managers.

More than 75% of the respondents see the U.S. and local economies in fair or poor condition and two-thirds expect the next three months to be more of the same. Regarding economic policy, 63% of the respondents rated U.S. economic policy as poor while 85% criticized Illinois economic policy as poor. These indicators are no better than they were one year ago. The results are consistent with recent nationwide surveys including the National Federation of Independent Business which saw its business optimism index decline, as did the number of companies planning to add jobs.

The survey also indicated that economic uncertainty here and abroad and government regulation and interference are hampering business. The poor economy and low demand was seen as the business challenge most affecting 33% of respondents, while 23% cited government regulation and interference as their largest issue. As offshoring begins to reverse course in some parts of the economy and jobs are returning from overseas, 33% of companies surveyed said that economic uncertainty here and abroad will be the biggest stumbling block to bringing jobs back to America.

The vast majority of the companies surveyed continue to hold off on capital investments other than for equipment and technology, where more than 70% of companies plan to invest

In commenting on the results, Mark A. Hoppe, president and CEO of Cole Taylor, said, “These results confirm what our bankers are hearing in the marketplace every day — business owners don’t have a lot of confidence in the economy and are concerned about economic policies on both a national and local level. Their apprehension is somewhat higher as it relates to the challenges facing Illinois. Returning our local economy to its full strength means that state government needs to work hand-in-hand with the business community to restore confidence in Illinois. Small and mid-sized businesses have historically been a source of economic strength in our market and I’m confident that they will be once again.”

For complete survey results click here.