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Business optimism up (at least for smaller firms)

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A recent report says Pennsylvania-based small business owners have shown ambition above the national average, with 81 percent planning to grow their business over the next six months.

That's 12 percent higher than the national average of 69 percent, and 16 percent higher than the Northeast average.

The American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, a semi-annual survey, also showed that 64 percent of small business owners now pay themselves a salary, up from 47 percent last fall. On average they earn $69,600 per year, up from $58,000 a year ago.

Despite their plans for growth, 83 percent are stressed out over the economy (24 percent higher than the national average of 59 percent), and 63 percent report cash flow issues (compared to a 53 percent national, and 50 percent Northeast average).

“We've seen a slow but gradual increase in optimism,” said Alice Bredin, small business advisor for American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor.

“Typically, if you see a spike on a regional basis, it has to do with business in that area.”

Heather McCloskey, chief executive officer of McCloskey Partners LLC of Perkasie, is optimistic.

“We are in the process of growing, for us, 2011 into 2012 was our biggest growth year,” she said. “Going into 2013, we are projecting even more growth.”

McCloskey, who is the sole owner of the 12-person human resources solution provider, is adding five positions now, plus another five in 2013.

“The economy does seem to be rebounding in my opinion as well as for several of my clients,” she noted.

Spark, an advertising, marketing and public relations agency in Bethlehem, does not have any immediate plans to expand in the next six months, but the 12-person firm also sees a more positive economic outlook for 2013.

“We've seen a gradual improvement; we are optimistic that growth will continue,” said Michael Drabenstott, principal at Spark.

Andrew Denzel, president of The Denzel Group, said his company has experienced growth.

“We've grown quite a bit this year; it's been a very strong year,” said Denzel, who is also owner of the information technology and clinical research recruiting firm based in Allentown.

Denzel said the firm started the year with two people but will finish the year with six.

“Our biggest challenge has been finding candidates,” said Denzel. He said he also plans to hire another four to five employees within the next year and if he needs to open another office he would look in the King of Prussia or Conshohocken area since 95 percent of his firm's business is in the mid-Atlantic region.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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