Local leaders needed to complete First Business survey

The 18th annual economic survey will offer a unique local perspective on the economic trends of 2020 that will impact 2021, none bigger than the COVID-19 pandemic.
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First Business Financial Services Inc. is seeking the opinions of area CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and other leaders as it compiles the company’s 18th annual economic survey.

The 2021 Business Statistics & Trends Report seeks to measure 2020 business activity and forecast expectations for 2021 with a concentration on the event that’s impacted the current year more than any other — the COVID-19 pandemic. The more participants, the better the data, and First Business hopes to increase participation this year among Dane County leaders.

“It’s a shorter survey this year with some new questions regarding COVID-19, so we hope to get as many responses as possible to create some interesting info for business leaders,” notes Mark Meloy, CEO of First Business Bank.

Participation is anonymous, but executives receive a free copy of the survey results via email if they provide an email address.

Meloy says the bank’s own clients have shown resourcefulness since the pandemic altered the way we live and work beginning in March, and many have used this opportunity to nimbly pivot their businesses in certain ways. “We wanted to ask questions that would capture that. We have seen some businesses excelling in this environment and, of course, others have been hit hard. I’ve heard it described as a barbell impact on businesses,” where the greatest financial hits are landing squarely on the jaw of individuals who are at the beginning and at the end of their working lives.

Meloy says that 18 years ago, First Business started conducting its annual survey when Corey Chambas, CEO of First Business Financial Services, noticed that most economic surveys were national and weren’t very meaningful to its local clients running businesses. “Our clients are often asking us what other business owners are planning to do in the next year — hire more, expand, raise wages? All of this data is designed to help people running businesses plan for the upcoming year. I think business owners are looking for data to guide their decisions this year more than any time since the Great Recession.”

As difficult as 2020 has been on almost every industry, Meloy calls many business leaders cautiously optimistic at this moment in time, though ongoing uncertainty about many things will temper that optimism. “I just read an article earlier this week with data from the U.S. Census Bureau that said new business applications in the United States are at their highest level in more than a decade. I think there are a lot of people out there starting businesses who are going to power this recovery through the next few years.”

While historically the response to its survey locally in Dane County has always been decent by First Business’s own standards, says Meloy, the opportunity to receive the data report when it’s released is often a big draw for business leaders who take the survey, and that’s something First Business hopes to build on in this most unusual of years. “We are always looking for more people to weigh in because it’s more statistically relevant the more responses we receive. Everyone benefits when there’s more input.”

To access the survey, click here.

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