Cash should flow like a torrent from small businesses this year, according to Pittsburgh-based SMC Business Councils premier issue of the Pennsylvania Small Business Barometer.
The survey, conducted by phone with more than 300 small business owners in the state, found that more than 30 percent of respondents plan to spend upwards of $5 billion on property, plants or equipment in Western Pennsylvania alone this year, averaging $271,500 per company.
Ten percent said they plan to hire more employees, while 4 percent expect work force cuts. The average salary of new hires is around $24,250, the survey indicated.
Almost 90 percent of respondents expressed optimism about their business prospects for this year. Only 11 percent in the western half of the state expressed concern that sales would decrease.
The biggest negative was that 80 percent of business owners view lawsuit abuse as a serious problem.
As for technology, the good news is that telecommunications and computer-oriented companies should have great opportunities in the state targeting small businesses. Thats because, according to the survey, only about 31 percent of small businesses use e-mail to communicate with customers or suppliers and 22 percent maintain their own Web sites.
Our region has long known the importance of small business to our economic well-being, but no one has quantified its significance, says Cliff Shannon, president of SMC, a statewide organization of 5,000 independent businesses. A succession of regional, statewide and national economic studies have described the small business sector as the most dynamic part of the economy, the engine of growthwhether measured in terms of job creation or capital investment.
Shannon says the Barometer will be published quarterly this year in an effort to call attention to the views and opinions of small business owners in the state on economic and other important issues.
To get a full copy of the latest survey, call SMC at (412) 371-1500.