Chicago area entrepreneurs say economic uncertainty continues to hamper business growth

- Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index reveals growing unease over condition of economy

- Broad concern over effects of Affordable Care Act

- Anxiety continues over government policies

May 15, 2013, 09:00 ET from Cole Taylor Bank

CHICAGO, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index survey for the first half of 2013 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.

Uncertainty also continues to plague the recovering commercial real estate market. Of those willing to make a prediction as to the speed of the recovery, 42% didn't see the multifamily/condo market improving until 2014 or later, while nearly 50% saw the large commercial market stagnant until 2014 or after.

Business owners are familiar with the Affordable Care Act (88% are somewhat or very familiar with the Act), but more than half believe it will have a negative impact on their companies.

Other highlights of the survey included:

  • 42% of respondents said sales in the last quarter were up, down from 52% in the fall
  • 29% of the respondents plan to increase staffing, while 65% said staffing will be stable
  • Of those planning on adding staffing, nearly three-quarters plan to add in operations
  • 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."

More results from the Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index can be found at

About the Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index
The Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index is designed to gather feedback from Chicago area business leaders regarding their attitudes and perceptions of the economy, both nationally and in the local market.  The semi-annual survey was conducted online by Star Data Systems, Inc., from March 13, 2013 to March 29, 2013 and includes more than 300 decision-makers from mid-sized businesses in the Chicago area.  Findings are significant to a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 5%.

About Cole Taylor Bank
Cole Taylor Bank is a commercial bank headquartered in Chicago with assets of $5.8 billion as of March 31, 2013. Cole Taylor specializes in serving the banking needs of closely held businesses and the people who own and manage them. With its national businesses, the Bank also provides asset-based lending, residential mortgage lending and commercial equipment leasing through a growing network of offices throughout the United States. Cole Taylor is a member of the FDIC and is an Equal Housing Lender.


SOURCE Cole Taylor Bank