Greater Milwaukee shines in First Business Bank survey

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Last updated on August 22nd, 2019 at 02:03 pm

Mike Flynn


Marking a notable milestone, the annual First Business Bank Economic Survey is 10 years old in Greater Milwaukee. Not unlike a child at age 10, our survey results are developing their own unique personality, reflecting our area’s vibrant business profile. With 10 years of data under our belts, it’s looking like 2018 is shaping up to be one of the most positive from business executives’ perspective. You’ll be happy to know that sentiment carries over into predictions for 2019, as well. Read on for the details.

An Origin Story

First, a little historic perspective on this unique survey. Our CEO Corey Chambas, then bank president, noticed that national economic surveys were not very useful for local businesses. To capture relevant data, he created a survey by local business, for local business, to measure the sentiment of the local business scene. Sixteen years ago, First Business Bank started by surveying Dane County companies, and 10 years ago broadened the survey to Appleton and Greater Milwaukee. We openly share the results with all businesses as a tool for their projections and growth planning.

2018 Results

What impresses me most about this year’s results is how solidly your hard work paid off. Last year, your expectations for this year were very high, and yet 40 percent of respondents said that 2018 exceeded those record-high expectations. Another 37 percent said 2018 met their expectations. Additionally, this year the percentage of companies reporting higher numbers of employees and higher wages both reached new historic high levels.

The percentage of respondents reporting an increase in 2018 actual sales revenue jumped from 64% to a historic high 81%, attributing it primarily to increased sales and marketing efforts, improved internal efficiencies, and investment in new talent.

2019 Predictions

Next year’s projections continue to be very optimistic; the percentage of companies expecting an increase in projected sales is slightly lower than last year’s historic high, but projections for increases in profits and hiring are both at new historic high levels. Eighty-six percent project an improvement in overall business performance for 2019 (a 9-point increase over the previous year), and just 2 percent expect a decline.

Industry Snapshots

Our survey digs down into the local industries that make the Greater Milwaukee area truly great, providing more in-depth data for manufacturing and professional services. Following along with the fervor buoyed by Foxconn, of manufacturing executives who completed the survey, a historic high 83 percent saw an increase in actual sales in 2018 — up 18 percentage points from the previous year. Perhaps ramping up to pitch in to the Foxconn mix, area manufacturers also reported increasing employees at a historic high for our survey — 68 percent say they increased their number of employees last year.

Numbers are comforting, but they’re only part of the story. Behind each and every completed survey is an impressive group of driven and talented professionals working to achieve their aspirations and goals. At First Business Bank, we salute your efforts and endeavor to help your team individually thrive with banking and financial solutions designed to power your performance for years to come. Reach out to our experts to learn about how we can operate as your hidden competitive advantage in 2019.

Member FDIC, First Business Bank 18500 W. Corporate Drive, Brookfield WI 53045

For more information, visit or call (262) 792-7107.

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