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Chicago area business owners plan to expand, experienced modest sales growth in face of deepening concerns over economy

CHICAGO, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cole Taylor Business Owners Confidence Index survey for the second half of 2012 indicates local business leaders are making plans to expand as sales volumes rise despite their increased pessimism regarding the US and Chicago-area economies.

More than half of the respondents, which were surveyed between August 28 and September 16, 2012, said that they had experienced an increase in sales volume during the previous quarter, and nearly 60% plan to expand their business in the next six months.  About half of those who plan to expand will do so in Illinois, and 70% of the businesses also plan to invest in equipment and technology.

As compared to sentiments expressed in the survey for the first half of 2012, raw material costs are expected to rise more slowly, and fewer local businesses expressed interest in moving out of the area.  

Notwithstanding their plans for expansion and sales growth, business leaders expressed deep concern over the economy.  Nearly 90% of the respondents believe the US and Chicago economies are in fair to poor condition, while 96% believe that local economic policies and actions are fair to poor.

Highlights of the survey included:

  • 52% of respondents saw sales volume rise in the last quarter
  • 59% plan to expand in the next six months
  • 56% see their raw material costs rising, down from 70% who anticipated increased costs in the first half of 2012
  • 15% expect business conditions will be worse in three months, up from 6% in the prior survey
  • 20% expressed interest in relocating their businesses outside the area versus 30% in the survey for the first half of 2012
  • Only 30% plan to add staff in the near future, down from 42% six months ago
  • 26% responded that the European slowdown has had a negative effect on their business.

The survey asked local business leaders how they would solve the Illinois budget deficit problem.  More than 80% of respondents said reducing state employee staffing levels and reducing public worker pension benefits were the best solutions.

Commenting on the survey results, Mark A. Hoppe, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cole Taylor Bank said, "We are pleased to see local middle-market business leaders are reporting increased sales and that they are making plans to expand their businesses.  Both of these indicators offer encouraging signs that the sluggish economy is improving for the middle market but their pessimism regarding the overall state of the economy shows that the recovery is far from complete. These companies are critical to the Chicago-area economy and surveying their expectations is important to fully understanding the local market."

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 Confidence Index is designed to gather feedback from Chicago area business leaders regarding their attitudes and perceptions of the economy, both nationally and within the local market.  The semi-annual survey was conducted online by Chamberlain Research Consultants from August 28 through September 16, 2012 and included 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 $4.8 billion commercial bank headquartered in Chicago. Cole Taylor specializes in serving the needs of closely held businesses and the people who own and manage them.

Through its divisions, Cole Taylor Business Capital, Cole Taylor Equipment Finance and Cole Taylor Mortgage, the Bank also provides asset based lending services, commercial equipment leases and loans, residential mortgage loan products 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