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Published: Thursday, 1/6/2011

Local small businesses upbeat about 2011

Local small businesses seem to be optimistic about the 2011 economy, with about seven out of every 10 expecting increased revenues, but less than half plan to hire workers, a survey shows.

The survey by the Employers Association, a national human resources organization with an office in Sylvania, said 61 percent of Ohio companies surveyed and 64 percent of Michigan respondents plan to give raises to employees this year.

The survey, released this week, said 43 percent of Ohio companies and 49 percent of Michigan companies plan to hire this year, particularly in the next six months.

Jack Hollister, president of the Toledo-area Employers' Association, said local businesses may be upbeat about this year because some have started to rebound from the recession.

“I think they've started to see business pick up a little bit,” he said. “A lot of our automotive suppliers have picked up a tremendous amount of business in the last six months.”

Still, many respondents seemed cautious about the overall economy. Just 37 percent of Ohio companies and 48 percent of Michigan businesses said they expect the economy to improve compared to last year. Forty-seven percent of Ohio businesses and 51 percent of Michigan companies said they plan to cut costs, mainly through efforts to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

The trade group received responses from nearly 2,800 businesses nationwide, including about 330 in Ohio and 500 in Michigan.

Jerry Giesler, president of Riverside Machine & Automation Inc. in Genoa, echoed the tone of companies surveyed. The machining shop, which counts such clients as Libbey Inc. and Owens-Illinois Inc., had record sales last year after an “ugly” performance in 2009.

Riverside expects this year to maintain its 2010 revenue, hire a few workers, and extend raises to some of the 65 employees who didn't receive them the last couple years. Still, Mr. Giesler said he's taking a cautious business approach to 2011. “I don't look for it to be a big change.”

Nationally, the survey found, 36 percent of respondents said they believe the economy will improve from last year and 58 percent expect it to stay the same. Nearly 65 percent expect to see a slight or significant increase in sales, and more than 41 percent of companies nationwide expect to hire workers.

Among Midwest companies surveyed, nearly 41 percent said they expect the economy to improve, while nearly 71 percent expect their sales to increase.

Forty-six percent of Midwest companies said they plan to hire staff this year.

Contact Sheena Harrison at:

sharrison@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103.



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