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Chamber survey finds small business optimistic on Florida economy, jobs

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Small businesses lead the way as the Sunshine State continues to outpace the nation’s economic recovery, according to a new report by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In the Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey, small businesses are signaling the good economic news by reporting higher company sales, an improved economic outlook, and increased willingness to hire new employees.

The report, prepared jointly with the Florida SBDC Network, was announced Thursday morning at the annual Florida SBDC Network Conference, held this week in Miami.

Introducing the survey, Chamber CEO Mark Wilson pointed out the small businesses play a leading role in Florida’s economy, creating two out of three new jobs. The role of the Small Business Index, he added, is to track trends and issues impacting small businesses.

Among the survey findings, 55 percent of small businesses reported higher sales over the previous quarter, while 62 percent said they had higher sales compared to the same time last year.

Despite the good economic news, Florida business owners continue to have several concerns. Top issues include economic uncertainty (24 percent), workforce quality (15 percent), government regulations (12 percent), access to capital (10 percent) and ways to manage growth (10 percent). Access to capital dropped to the fourth overall issue, compared to being tied as the single biggest concern more than a year ago.

As for the state’s future, the survey says business owners remain cautiously optimistic: 78 percent of respondents expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months, with 18 percent expecting the economy to “improve significantly,” a figure more than double of that from the Florida Chamber Q2 2014 survey.

In addition, 57 percent of businesses say their business are better off than six months ago.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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