Company presidents, local CEOs, business owners, managers and other leaders forecast the economic climate for 2015, including the outlook for their own industry and company.
Publisher and Owner
In 2015, BizTimes Media will celebrate 20 years of service to the greater Milwaukee business community. We are grateful for all the support we have received over the years from readers, clients, event attendees and featured executives. I am also particularly grateful for the amazing and dedicated team of hard-working professionals on our staff.
We are proud of our independent and local heritage and this southeastern Wisconsin region that we call home. It has been a privilege to cover this region’s business leaders and newsmakers, innovators and entrepreneurs and to see the positive changes that make this region a great place to live, work, play and prosper.
Many experts, including those whom we have covered in print and online, predict a favorable economic forecast for 2015, resulting in increased business spending. Thus, businesses should seize the opportunity to capture more market share in the New Year. This will occur through sound product offerings, a good team and a solid brand and sales support system.
We welcome the opportunity to be your partner in supporting your sales team, helping you create a brand presence, a favorable position in the market and providing you access to the region’s business leaders.
We thank our valued customers and supporters as we look forward to a dynamic new year. To everyone in our vibrant business community we wish good health and success in 2015.
CARW – Commercial Association of REALTORS® Wisconsin
It is a great time to be in commercial real estate! This has been a period of tremendous growth for our industry. Members of the Commercial Association of REALTORS ® Wisconsin (CARW) shape the trends and information that move our economy. Business confidence continues to improve as strong corporate balance sheets encourage increased capital expenditures. An improving lending environment and heightened risk appetite by banks point to further investment over the coming year. In the office segment, positive absorption has resulted in decreasing vacancy rates and the first new office development in 10 years, Irgens Development Partners 833 East, currently under construction and scheduled to open in early 2016. More than any other sector, the industrial market has experienced strong growth in 2014, and that is expected to continue through 2015. Strong tenant demand along the Wisconsin/Illinois boarder in Kenosha will lead to more than a million square feet of new construction coming online in the next year. Overall, we continue to see significant activity that is further bolstered by a culture of collaboration amongst real estate professionals. Future economic development successes will stem from our ability to work with the public sector to break down barriers for development and create incentives that attract businesses to our state and our area. Strategic focus on job creation will fuel greater economic health for the region. CARW moves the industry though advocacy, education, networking and data exchange. For more information about how you can be involved with the largest Commercial Real Estate Association in Wisconsin, visit www.carw.com or call Tracy at 414.271.2021.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin
Good news: Our health care system is great and most of us will live well into our 80s!
Bad news: Quantity is not equal to quality, and 70 percent of us will outlive our quality of life. After the age of 50, you may spend decades suffering daily from a multitude of chronic conditions, but our world-class medial system will keep you alive. Whether you like it or not!
So how’d we get here?
Increasingly, too many of us are banking on being taken care of by doctors and not on being accountable for taking care of our own health.
Alarmingly, we’ve reached the point in the United States where 50 percent of all illnesses and 70 percent of all premature deaths can be eliminated by simple…lifestyle…changes.
These are lessons from the most important book I read in 2014, Younger Next Year, and they can be applied to move your business forward in 2015.
Employees want to work where they’re valued and appreciated, and being a healthy, vibrant workplace is a differentiator. Even if you do not provide health insurance, you can still establish a culture of wellness that promotes physical activity, getting preventative care (i.e. flu shots), and eating healthy. Little adjustments, such as having fruit rather than donuts at the morning meeting, can help set the right tone, benefiting both morale and the bottom line.
Focus your efforts on driving a culture of health that manifests itself in ways both big and small, and has a positive halo effect on family members and friends. Exactly what works varies based on a company’s culture and starting point. Most find that you need to use both a carrot and a stick.
The best way to size up your options is to work with a trusted partner who understands wellness in our changing health benefits marketplace. If it’s been awhile since you talked with your insurance broker, or looked at innovative ways to control your health care costs, please take some time to do so. Remember, benefits planning is best accomplished when you have plenty of time to make strategic decisions, rather than in the final weeks before renewals and open enrollment.
At Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we’re working to transform health care with trusted and caring solutions. To learn about the latest strategies and how wellness programs can produce increased productivity and presenteeism, please contact us at 262-523-2493, visit us at www.anthem.com.
Executive Vice President of U.S. Business Banking, BMO Harris Bank
Director, MMAC Board
In 2015, I expect that Milwaukee’s economy will experience solid growth. Business owners have told me they feel good about how the U.S. economy is faring, and they are seeing profits on the rise. This improved business confidence should lead to a pickup in investment and factory activity next year that BMO Harris Bank is ready to support.
Milwaukee’s business expansion is in line with forecasts from BMO’s economists. Next year, the Wisconsin economy is expected to grow at a 2.6 percent pace, above the national average. Milwaukee is on track to add 12,000 jobs. Growth is really accelerating in the construction, trade and professional services sectors.
We recently surveyed Wisconsin business owners and executives about how they feel about their prospects for the coming year, and the results are positive. Seventy-eight percent feel the U.S economy will either grow or remain at its present level, and 90 percent foresee their own businesses either growing or remaining at the same level in 2015.
To spur this growth, BMO Harris Bank is making an additional $3 billion in credit available to business owners in Wisconsin over the next three years. Not only are we making more of our balance sheet available, we’re focusing on entrepreneurs, women and minority business owners so they have more certainty of credit to grow and create new jobs.
The bank is, in many ways, a mirror of Milwaukee’s economic activity. We are stronger today than at any time in our 197-year history, and we’re well-positioned for future growth. But we aren’t taking our hard-earned customer relationships for granted.
Consumers are redefining their expectations of us – and how banking works – in real time. Thanks to cell phones, tablets and mobile apps, customers expect instant access to information and an immediate response to their banking needs.
To deliver on these expectations, in 2015 we’re asking more of ourselves and more of our bank. We’re sharpening our understanding of what customers are looking for, how they want to do business with us and, most importantly, what we can do to help them achieve financial clarity.
What we already know is that we have something special to offer the marketplace. Our bankers work with clients to proactively guide and advise, to address concerns and to understand unique financial challenges.
Without a doubt, we’re here to help Milwaukee businesses and consumers reach their full potential in 2015 and beyond.