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Economic Survey Results: Eastside Business Leader Outlook on the 2016 Economy

Wednesday, November 18, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sara Garner
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Eastside Business Leader Outlook on the 2016 Economy
Bellevue Chamber Releases Economic Survey Results and Economic Strategy Guide

BELLEVUE – Eastside business leader optimism remains high, with 90% of those surveyed believing the Puget Sound economy will continue to expand in the next year. This reflects a remarkable rebound from the 2008 low of 36%. While the regional outlook for 2016 has dipped slightly from the previous year, it remains better than the national outlook. Presentations at today’s Eastside Economic Forecast breakfast mirrored these findings. Joe Quinlan, Chief Market Strategist for Bank of America agreed that our region is poised to lead the country, and Bill Pollard, Co-Founder and Managing Principal, Talon Private Capital stated our region is among the top markets for commercial real estate in the country.

The complete results of the annual Eastside Business Leader survey conducted by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce were revealed may be found in the Bellevue Chamber’s 2016 Eastside Economic Forecast Strategy Guide, available online at www.bellevuechamber.org.

The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce has been tracking the economic outlook of business leaders for the last 22 years. “Across the board from startups to established companies and across all industry sectors, business leaders are upbeat and optimistic about the Puget Sound Economy,” said Betty Capestany, Bellevue Chamber President & CEO. “Eastside companies are adding jobs and increasing revenue, showing the diversification, entrepreneurial spirit, and resilience of our local economy.”

Other survey findings include:

Revenue Outlook for local companies:

Drilling down to the individual company level revealed businesses are increasingly optimistic about their own company when it comes to forecasting revenue in the next year with:

  • 74% expecting that revenues will come in stronger than last year. Compared to 78% (2015); 76% (2014) and 70% (2013) expected stronger revenues

  • 21% felt their revenues would hold steady, up three percentage points over last year’s 18%

Jobs Outlook for local companies:

  • The workforce prediction is also positive with 52.4% of survey respondents expecting to add employees to their company in 2016 (this compares to 57.2% in 2015; 49% in 2014 and 41% expected to add jobs in 2013.

  • The most job growth in relation to company size is expected within companies of 51-99 employees (70%) and 100-250 employees (68%).

The top four state and local business challenges business leaders will encounter in 2016:

  • Regional economic climate

  • Transportation, infrastructure and congestion

  • Business taxes and regulations

  • Employee health care costs

Interesting to note this is the second year in a row that the top four concerns remain in the same order and were within six points of each other. Since 2009, we have seen significant priority shifts of top business challenges. Generating revenue which has been one of the top concerns since 2009 has become of lesser concern giving way to attraction and retention of talent.

The top national factors impacting the business leader outlook in 2016:

  • Access to talent – continued as the #1 challenge for the second year in a row
  • Cost of health care – continued as #2 for the second year in a row
  • Federal legislation moved from off the charts to #3 only 1 point behind health care

On the global outlook, Quinlan iterated that while the Puget Sound region is largely optimistic other areas of the U.S. are less so. He stated business leaders should pay attention to this divide and noted these key areas to track in 2016: immigration reform, lack of talent/war for talent, tightening of the skilled labor market, increased demand for energy resources, aging infrastructure, and the need for corporate tax reform.

In regards to the commercial real estate market as a key indicator of the strength of the local economy, Pollard affirmed that Bellevue, with its available new space and sufficient housing Downtown to attract Millennials, is positioned well to attract the next wave of companies looking for an urban center in which to locate.

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The Bellevue Chamber serves as the voice of business on the Eastside, representing thousands of jobs in our community. Businesses range in size from sole proprietors to large corporations. The Chamber's mission is to foster a healthy business environment by providing strategic leadership, advocacy, tools, and resources for business success.


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