Recognizing Optimism in Uncertain Economic Times | Plante Moran
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Plante & Moran Debuts “2008 Perspective on the Midwest Middle Market: Recognizing Optimism in Uncertain Economic Times” Research Study

Middle Market Businesses in Midwest are Optimistic

, Michigan — Plante & Moran, PLLC, the nation’s 12th largest certified public accounting and business consulting firm, today released the results of “The Plante & Moran 2008 Perspective on the Midwest Middle Market: Recognizing Optimism in Uncertain Economic Times” research study.

“Despite a down economy, more than two-thirds of the business leaders we spoke with said they were optimistic about the continued growth of their businesses,” said Bill Hermann, Managing Partner of Plante & Moran. “As a firm that primarily works with middle-market organizations, our research shows a widening gap between what is happening with the economy overall versus what is happening among middle-market businesses in the Midwest. Plante & Moran believes smart and motivated middle-market businesses have developed plans for success rooted in solid business sense, competitive differentiation and disciplined decision-making.”

The survey was conducted in January and February of this year – at the height of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and what many consider the most severe stock market decline since the 1980s. The multi-industry research study explores the perceptions of business executives and company owners in a variety of industries – including construction, financial institutions, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution, public sector, real estate and service industries – surrounding current and future economic conditions in the Midwest (specifically Michigan, Ohio and Illinois). The study also measures the attitudes of these stakeholders relative to opportunities for business growth within their respective geographic region.

State-specific data from the survey examines the key factors important to overall business and geographic growth, and contains feedback from mid-market executives about the strengths or assets they perceive in their respective geographic location, and the ways in which they expect their businesses to grow. Additionally, the survey assesses the importance of certain sources of support for businesses, such as tax structure, supportive governmental policies and access to capital, among others, and their impact and influence on business operations and growth.

Key findings contained in the research study include:

  • More than two-thirds of all respondents in all states (Michigan, Ohio and Illinois) indicated they were somewhat optimistic or very optimistic about the continued growth of their business; and when asked to identify the strengths of their region and factors important to the growth of their organization, respondents most frequently cited the availability of a skilled workforce and a strong work ethic.
  • When the strengths of the region are compared to the factors needed for organizational and regional growth, sizeable gaps exist between what the region has, and what they feel the region needs. The most significant gaps occurred in the area of supportive governmental policies (more than 51 percent) and tax structure (more than 53 percent).
  • More than 70 percent of respondents from all three states feel collaboration with other organizations is important to success, with the majority of respondents accomplishing this via industry groups.

Plante & Moran conducted “The Plante & Moran 2008 Perspective on the Midwest Middle Market: Recognizing Optimism in Uncertain Economic Times” research study in partnership with the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University.

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