Iowa’s largest employers are generally optimistic about the next six months according to a new report from the Iowa Business Council. IBC spokesperson Elliot Smith says their survey of 17 businesses shows most are anticipating higher sales, increased capital spending and a boost in employment.
"This first quarter survey result indicates a fairly healthy optimism about business here in Iowa," Smith said. The council’s first-quarter Economic Outlook Survey Index is 66.3, which is unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2007. The index is based on the company’s predictions for sales, capital spending and hiring levels. Smith says it appears the uncertainty surrounding the national economy isn’t having a tremendous impact on Iowa.
"The diversity of Iowa’s business community really comes into play here I think," Smith says, "we don’t have all of our focus in one particular industry area. We’re broadly established in financial and information services, advanced manufacturing and ag or bio-related industry sectors." The biggest change in the survey may involve capital spending. A record 12-percent of the businesses say they expect substantially lower spending in the coming months.
"I think you’re seeing business leaders in Iowa maybe taking a step back and evaluating the national or global economic situation for the coming year," Smith says, "and before they get too excited about making large commitments in capital investment and infrastructure, they’re going to wait and see how global situation plays out."
Smith is quick to point out that another 18 percent of the businesses plan to substantially increase capital spending. He says there are several companies with "significant optimism" while others are being more cautious in their approach. The full survey is available on-line at the Iowa Business Council’s website .