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Regional private company survey shows tax cut generating optimism

Things are looking up for privately owned businesses in the region, according to the second Private Company Pulse Survey released today by Horsham-based accounting and business consulting firm Kreischer Miller.

The survey found that over the last 18 months, privately held and family owned companies believe their business prospects are improving and their level of optimism has steadily risen over the last 18 months.

“The No. 1 influence has been the tax cut that went into effect in December,” said Mario Vicari, director of Kreischer Miller’s Center for Private Company Excellence, which conducted the survey. “That was a big stimulus. People feel they will keep more of what they earn.”

According to the survey, 67.8 percent indicated some level of positivity, while 32.3 percent were neutral or couldn’t tell. No respondents said it would affect them negatively.

The Private Company Sentiment Index, which reflects private business owners’ outlook for their business, is at 7.79 [out of 10], compared to 7.22 in July 2017 and 6.28 in July 2016.

That’s an increase of 24 percent since July 2016. The July 2016 figure is based on respondents in the July 2017 survey – the first for Kreischer Miller – being asked about their outlook a year prior.

“People have a more optimistic view of their business outlook,” Vicari said.

Ninety-two percent of respondents said they are optimistic about the economy’s performance over the next 12 months, compared to 80 percent six months ago.

Those business owners also expect their pace of sales growth to accelerate.

In the July 2017 survey, 53.1 percent of respondents anticipated a growth rate between zero and 5 percent.

During the latter survey, that number dropped to 37.7 percent, while the percentage of respondents who anticipate growth greater than 5 percent increased from 45.7 percent to 60.7 percent.

The biggest challenge for the businesses, however, was finding qualified employees, Vicari said.

When asked to cite their top business challenge, 45.2 percent of respondents indicated that access to talent was their largest issue.

No other category came close, Vicari said.

This is the second Private Company Pulse Survey that Kreischer Miller has released. The next one will be in six months.

The survey covered the Greater Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia regions.

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