Survey: Optimism on the rise among Arkansas CEOs

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 47 views 

Top business leaders in Arkansas are full of optimism headed into the new year. The latest survey of more than 100 Arkansas company leaders indicates an improved outlook for the first half of 2015 in revenue increases, greater capital spending, and hiring.

Talk Business & Politics – in conjunction with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and consulting group CEG Partners – released its third “Business Leaders Confidence Survey,” which captures opinions on the future direction of Arkansas economic conditions.

“What a difference six months can make. What a difference a year can make. Clearly, there is momentum building among business leaders for a healthy 2015,” said Mike Stafford, managing partner with Little Rock-based CEG Partners, which conducted and analyzed the semi-annual report.

More than 85% of respondents were top level executives (CEO, CFO, VP, etc.), while 56% worked for or owned companies with more than 50 employees. The survey was conducted by CEG Partners from Dec. 29, 2014 to Jan. 2, 2015.

Some key takeaways from the survey for expectations during the first 6 months of 2015:
• 75% expect sales revenues to increase slightly or significantly – a +9% change from our mid-2014 survey;

• 55% expect capital spending to increase slightly or significantly – a +8% change from the last survey;

• 57% expect employment to increase slightly or significantly – a +16% change in the last 6 months.

When asked about economic conditions, the business leaders surveyed see marked improvements:
• 60% said conditions are better than 6 months ago – a +28% change from the previous survey in July 2014;

• 54% feel conditions will be better over the next 6 months – a +6% change from the last survey.

ONE YEAR AGO

The results headed into 2015 are even more improved when compared to attitudes one year ago.

• In January 2015, 54% of respondents are more positive about economic conditions than one year ago;

• 17% have a more positive expectation for revenue growth compared to a year ago; and

• 43% are more optimistic about hiring than they were in January 2014.

“Business leaders see an improving economy and this generates optimism and confidence their businesses will improve as well,” said Randy Zook, CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas. “Strong auto sales, slowly but steadily improving housing sales, the dramatic drop in oil and gas prices and strengthening employment numbers all bode well for 2015 and beyond. The big question mark remains the Federal Reserve. All in all, a much improved picture. Now if we can get some reasonable policies out of Washington. Maybe the Keystone pipeline or tax reform or some trade deals.”

Link here for a PDF of the full report.