Local Business Leaders See U.S., Chicago Economic Prospects Brightening; Offer Perspectives on Term Limits and Pension Crisis

- Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index shows sales, growth plans steady

- Survey reports 82% back term limits for Illinois elected officials; continued support for reductions in public worker pensions as best solution to pension crisis

- Rauner leads for governor with most undecided

Nov 07, 2013, 08:30 ET from Cole Taylor Bank

CHICAGO, Nov. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index survey for the second half of 2013 shows that Chicago-area mid-size business owners and managers are seeing signs of progress in the economic recovery on both a local and national level.

Of the business leaders responding to the survey, 85% saw the U.S. economy in good or fair condition, while nearly 80% felt the Chicago economy was in good or fair condition.  The levels of those who saw the economy in poor condition were at their lowest level since the survey began in the spring of 2012.

Nearly half (45%) reported higher sales volumes over the previous quarter. More than 55% plan to expand their business in the next twelve months, with 61% planning on doing so in Illinois, up from 47% who reported in the spring 2013 survey that they planned to expand in Illinois.  Staffing levels remained steady with 64% of respondents saying they were keeping staffing levels flat in the next quarter with 27% planning to add staff and only 9% planning staff reductions.

However, respondents continued to criticize national and local economic policy.  U.S. economic policy was rated poor by 58% of the business leaders while the state of Illinois' policies were rated poor by 85%.  Locally, business leaders expect a flat economy over the next three months, with 76% seeing no change in Chicago area economic conditions.

When asked if Illinois elected officials should have term limits, 82% of the entrepreneurs overwhelmingly favored amending the Illinois constitution to do so.  Regarding solutions to the state's ongoing pension crisis, 80% favored reducing public worker pension benefits.  Compared to one year ago, fewer respondents support expanding casino gambling and reducing state employee staffing levels as solutions.

Looking ahead to the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial election, 63% of business owners are undecided, with only Bruce Rauner receiving double digit support (11%) among the five leading candidates. Incidentally, Rauner recommended Term Limit legislation. 

When asked how likely it is that Illinois will follow Detroit in filing for bankruptcy, 41% thought such a move is highly or somewhat likely while 54% thought it not likely or highly unlikely.

Other highlights of the survey included:

  • Nearly 20% of the respondents said they had considered selling their business in the last six months.
  • Forty percent of those who considered selling said they did so because they either received an offer to sell or the value of their business had risen, possibly as a result of an improving economy. Another 40% said they considered selling due to retirement or lack of succession.
  • When asked what was the most critical skill needed for the next generation of leaders, nearly 50% chose critical thinking, with creativity a distant second (21%).

Mark A. Hoppe, President and CEO of Cole Taylor Bank, in commenting on the results said, "Signs that the economic recovery is gaining ground is good news for all of us. I'm encouraged to hear that local entrepreneurs see reassuring signs in the marketplace and continue to make plans to expand their businesses, thus adding further strength to the economy. Despite these positive indicators, we continue to face a number of challenges, which is why it is critically important that our local small- and mid-sized businesses assume a leadership role in rebuilding the local economy and in restoring faith in the fiscal condition of our state."

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 September 24, 2013, to October 11, 2013, and included 250 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 premier commercial bank headquartered in Chicago with assets of $6.0 billion as of September 30, 2013, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Taylor Capital Group. Inc. (NASDAQ: TAYC). For more than 80 years, Cole Taylor Bank has been successfully meeting the banking needs of closely-held companies and the people who own and manage them by focusing on a relationship-based approach to business. Through its national businesses, Cole Taylor provides a full range of financial services, including asset based lending, commercial equipment financing, and residential mortgage lending.

Visit www.coletaylor.com

SOURCE Cole Taylor Bank