2018 Aurora Regional Economic Pulse Survey Released

This survey was distributed to a sampling of 661 contacts of employers from the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce. It includes member and non-member businesses within the Aurora-North Aurora region. Responses were collected between January 10, 2018, and January 25, 2018. Four percent of those email invitations sent were eliminated due to non-working emails which left 624 invitations sent. Of those, 226 employers responded for a response rate of 36 percent.

Survey results reflect some growing optimism, particularly around plans to expand both human capital and facility investment. In 2018, more than half (55%) of respondents plan to hire — and sharp 10% upswing from last year. When asked what holds them back from expanding:

  • Twice as many as last year express uncertainty with the State of Illinois (43% versus 21%);
  • Nearly one in three state economic uncertainty as a reason (32%) — which is down from 38% last year and from 48% in 2016;
  • One in four cite excessive regulation and mandates keep them from hiring (26%) — which has hovered around 15% for the past two years.Nearly 70% of respondents had revenues less than $5 million. Better than seven in 10 continue to believe their revenue will improve during the next year. This remains consistent with the previous two surveys.

For 78% of respondents, revenue and sales are better than they were 12 months ago — this is a marked improvement over previous surveys where seven in 10 reported improved revenues. Confidence in the economy is significantly higher this year with 73% believing the economy will improve during the next year — two years ago, only 43% expected the economy to improve. When asked if they expected the economy to improve during the next three years, 76% showed optimism; this is remains consistent with the previous two surveys. Two of three respondents believe financing will be easier to obtain during the next year. Nine of 10 were able to receive financing for their business during the previous 12 months. One half of those surveyed plan to increase investment in their equipment and facilities during the next year.

However, the region’s businesses continue to be frustrated with the State and, in fact, the number of employers stating dissatisfaction has grown significantly. An astounding 98% are concerned with regulations, restrictions, and taxes imposed by the State of Illinois and its negative impact on their ability to do business. This is up significantly from last year’s 87% and from 2016’s 79%. When asked what top business issues the Legislature must address:

  • An overwhelming majority (79%) stated Illinois’ instability which included debt, pensions, outmigration, and “incompetence”;
  • 63% stated taxes and fees;
  • Regulations and mandates tied with workers compensation reform at 49%;
  • Affordable healthcare programs received 40%; and
  • A skilled workforce was named by 36% of respondents.

More than half (55%) state Illinois government regulations are unreasonable. More than eight in 10 (81%) are not confident in the direction the State of Illinois is heading. This is up from 71% last year and 72% in 2016.

Thank you to our survey sponsor, Old Second National Bank, as well as our lunch sponsors Dolan & Murphy, Konen Insurance Agency, and Invest Aurora. We will continue to analyze the details for more findings, support, and proposed programs to offer over the course of the next year.

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