Mike Ralston. (ABI photo)

The latest Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) quarterly survey shows a continued positive attitude despite some ongoing challenges.

ABI president, Mike Ralston, says a majority see their businesses continuing to grow. “Seventy percent of them expect to see sales expand in the next quarter. And boy, that’s positive for them and positive for Iowa,” Ralston says. That is down from 79% in the last quarter, which Ralston says is due to a couple of ongoing issues.

“For decades now the primary issue facing Iowa employers and manufacturers too, is workforce, everybody is looking for more people,” Ralston says. “But now since the pandemic has struck — really the supply chain has become a big issue. Not only not being able to find stuff — but the cost or quality is in question when you can find items. So, it’s a real concern now.”

Nearly 56% of businesses said they expect the number of employees in their business to grow — which is down from 72% in the previous quarter. Ralston says Iowa businesses haven’t sat back and waited on the supply issue. He says they have been proactive in identifying new sources of products and paying a little more if they have to, so they can have the material they need to make products.

Ralston says another key finding is that the number of businesses expecting to invest in their companies has only dropped by one percent from the last quarter. “Seventy-six percent of the respondents to the survey plan to make a capital expenditure in the next quarter. That’s just incredible and that’s a real testament to their view of where things are headed. That’s a pretty optimistic view,” Ralston says.

ABI says around half of its 1,500 member companies are manufacturers.