Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

Small busi­ness ex­pects growth

Sur­vey finds op­ti­mism; com­pa­nies plan to hire

- By Donna Gehrke-White Staff writer dgehrke@sunsen­, 954-356-4404

More than six of 10 small-busi­ness own­ers in South Florida say they haven’t fully re­cov­ered from the re­ces­sion — even six years into the re­cov­ery, ac­cord­ing to a Bank of Amer­ica sur­vey re­leased Mon­day.

Still, the 300 busi­ness own­ers polled in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are bullish about their prospects. Specif­i­cally:

Fifty-nine per­cent ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the lo­cal econ­omy will im­prove in the next year, com­pared with 46 per­cent in 2014.

Sixty-eight per­cent ex­pect an in­crease in rev­enue over the next 12 months, com­pared with 54 per­cent last year.

Fifty-three per­cent plan to hire this year, up from 36 per­cent last year.

Many small-busi­ness own­ers are act­ing on their op­ti­mism by ask­ing for loans or ex­panded lines of credit to buy more mer­chan­dise or im­prove their busi­ness, said Odalis Martinez, South Florida small busi­ness banker manager at Bank of Amer­ica.

“Some things are driv­ing this op­ti­mism,” such as the widen­ing of the Panama Canal ex­pected to be fin­ished in the next year, she said.

Many South Florida own­ers ex­pect to ben­e­fit from more trade once the canal is able to ac­com­mo­date some of the world’s largest boats, she said.

The com­ple­tion of $1 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments at PortMi­ami also is ex­pected to at­tract more busi­ness in South Florida, Martinez said.

Mean­while, the im­prov­ing job mar­ket is bring­ing more con­sumers back, said econ­o­mist Wil­liam B. Stronge, a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Florida At­lantic Uni­ver­sity. “Sales have been pretty good,” es­pe­cially auto sales, he said.

The Bank of Amer­ica Small Busi­ness Owner Re­port is a semi­an­nual study of small busi­ness own­ers in South Florida and eight other large ur­ban ar­eas, in­clud­ing New York and Chicago. The na­tional poll cov­ered 1,000 busi­ness own­ers with two to 99 em­ploy­ees and an­nual rev­enue of $100,000 to nearly $5 mil­lion.

The mar­gin of er­ror for the South Florida poll was 5.7 per­cent.

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