On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce released the results of the annual Regional Economic Pulse survey of businesses. Panelists Steven C. Meves, CFA, Old Second Bank; Kathy Gilmore, Valley Industrial Association; and Alex Pope, Rush-Copley Medical Center, joined Chamber CEO Joseph B. Henning, IOM, CAE, to discuss the results and highlight the implications for the region.
A cursory overview of the results show some positive feelings:
- 90 percent of those responding expect to maintain or increase (50%) their workforce.
- 64 percent of all respondents believe the economy will improve over the next 12 months. When large employers are asked, fewer than half (45%) believe it will improve; this is down from 69 percent of larger employers as surveyed last year.
- When asked if the economy will improve over the next three years, 75 percent believe it will improve. Again, larger employers are less optimistic with 64 percent believing it will.
- 73 percent of those responding believe their company’s sales/revenues will increase in the next year.
- Only 27 percent of large employers plan to invest in plant or equipment capital over the next 12 months; last year, 71 percent of large employers planned to invest. This is lower than the overall response of 39 percent (which itself is down 10 percentage points from last year).
- 70 percent of those responding state their business is better today than 12 months ago. Interestingly, larger employers are more positive with 90 percent stating an improvement.
- 100 percent of large businesses – and 89 percent overall – were able to obtain financing for their business during the past six months.
Negative feelings were also brought to light in the results:
- 37 percent believe economic uncertainty is the top obstacle in preventing new hiring – the great obstacle across the board no matter the size of employer.
- Economic uncertainty is pervasive in other areas, as well. 52 percent of all responses feel it is the greatest obstacle facing business.
- 37 percent of respondents rate the state government’s regulations on business negatively (either very or somewhat unreasonable).
- Nearly nine in 10 respondents (87% overall) are either very concerned or somewhat concerned about regulations, restrictions, and taxes place on their business by Springfield.
- The top three small business issues identified as priorities to be addressed in Springfield are the same across the board: State Budget (29%), Taxes and Fees (15%), and Regulations and Mandates (15%). Last year, Taxes and Fees was the top issue with 27 percent of respondents and State Budget was second. State Budget jumped 18 percentage points over last year.
- Finally, when asked how confident they were about the direction our state is going, an overwhelming 71 percent were not confident. This is similar to a Gallup polls which have reported that only 25 percent of Illinois residents were confident in the State government.
The Aurora Chamber would like to thank Old Second Bank, Dolan & Murphy Real Estate, and Invest Aurora for their sponsorship of the survey and lunch program. The Chamber and its partners will use the results of the survey to identify and provide programs for the business community throughout the year. For questions or more information, contact the Aurora Chamber at (630) 256-3180.