Sentiment improves among Wisconsin small business owners

Wisconsin’s small business owners are feeling better about the economy, according to a new survey from U.S. Bank.

Their sentiment has improved, and they are more likely than in past years to describe the current climate as recovery or expansion. About 66 percent believed the national economy is in recovery or expansion, according to U.S. Bank’s Small Business Annual Survey. Wisconsin’s small business owners also describe the state’s small business conditions as favorable, a factor that has improved in each of the past five years.

Economic uncertainty is still a factor, and respondents said they are cautious to make significant investments in their companies. Just 27 percent of Wisconsin respondents said they would be likely to make a capital expenditure in the next year, below the 34 percent planning investments nationally. About 52 percent of Wisconsin respondents described their ability to borrow as “easy,” compared with 65 percent nationally.

The survey included 3,202 small businesses ($10 million or less in annual revenue) across U.S. Bank’s 25-state footprint during the first quarter, 200 of which were in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin businesses remained relatively strong financially during the downturn, taking it as an opportunity to improve operational efficiencies in preparation for an improving economic environment,” said Mike Ward, regional small business manager for U.S. Bank in southeastern Wisconsin. “Looking around here in Milwaukee, there’s now a sense of momentum with all the new construction and development. The ripple effect down to small businesses has been increased confidence and activity. For example, we’ve been having more discussions advising local owners who are interested in buying or selling a small business.”

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