Daily News: February 21, 2014

KeyBank Survey: Middle Market Cautious About Growth

Middle market business leaders are taking cautious steps toward growth, according to results of KeyBank’s monthly Middle Market Business Sentiment Survey.

Despite continuing concern about the economy’s strength, there are more plans to add staff, and expand or renovate existing facilities. About 50% of business leaders polled indicate they will consider growth through acquisition or merger.

“Middle market business leaders are more confident in the outlook for their companies, but are still concerned about the economic outlook for the United States,” said Cindy Crotty, head of KeyBank’s Commercial Banking segment, which includes the middle market. “We see our clients taking a very measured approach to expanding.”

KeyBank partnered with Lieberman Research to survey 150 middle market financial decision makers between January 6 and 10.

The survey results showed 62% of those polled expect to expand their business in the next six months, with 69% of those with expansion plans opting to add staff. There was a 50-50 split between businesses leaders who are somewhat to very likely to expand through acquisition and merger in the next six months, and businesses leaders who do not anticipate acquiring or merging with another company.

Middle market business leaders opting to grow by adding staff are looking for ways to manage incremental employee expenses, including benefits, Crotty said.

A significant percentage of those polled indicated they will also expand facilities. Crotty said business leaders who plan to acquire new facilities, renovate existing buildings or expand existing buildings should discuss special financing opportunities for equipment and for commercial mortgages.

“Building ‘green’ or making renovations or expansions with energy efficiency in mind is an option middle market business owners should definitely consider,” Crotty said. “The benefits of energy conservation and sustainable building material use in construction range from tax credits to advantages bidding on work that requires providers to meet certain environmental standards.”