WMC: Local chambers of commerce remain cautious in economic outlook

Contact: Jim Morgan (mailto:[email protected]) , Vice President, WMC; Secretary/Treasurer, WCCE, (608) 258-3400 x3053

Katy Ryder Pettersen (mailto:[email protected]) , Director of Communications, WMC Foundation, (608) 661-6916

Local Business Associations Weigh-in on Future of Wisconsin’s Economy

Madison, WI, December 4, 2009 — More than 70 Wisconsin chamber of commerce executives participated in this year’s annual economic outlook survey compiled by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), the state chamber of commerce. This year’s survey results show concern surrounding Wisconsin’s business climate, but reveal more general optimism than last year.

Top Concerns

Leading all other concerns this year is the current state of Wisconsin’s business climate. A staggering eighty percent feel our state is headed in the wrong direction to keep Wisconsin competitive, and twenty-five percent said state government is very anti-business, compared to only nine percent in 2008, and two percent in 2007.

Jim Morgan, vice president of WMC and secretary/treasurer of the professional association Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executives, said “The results of the survey show the local chambers of commerce feel the economy has leveled off a bit, which is good news. But they remain concerned about the state’s negative attitude toward business and the overall poor condition of Wisconsin’s fiscal situation. Right now, we are not a very competitive place for business.”

Economics

There are bright spots in some communities. In 2008, twenty-eight percent of respondents thought that employment in their community would decrease, compared to only thirteen percent this year. But when considering the future business climate, only twenty-eight percent think their communities will see moderate growth, versus forty-five percent in 2008.

“Wisconsin businesses are optimistic about what the future holds for our economy in the next twelve months,” said Gene Dalhoff, executive director of the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce and incoming president of the Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executives. “However, there seems to be general agreement that any recovery we see will be slow, vary by industry, and that many businesses will face several more difficult months before things turn in a positive direction.”

Government

This year twenty-five percent of respondents feel state government is very anti-business, up from nine percent last year. Top suggestions for state government to be more business-friendly include:understand how businesses make expansion and relocation decisions so they see the impact of their legislative initiatives,continue to streamline the coordination of incentives programs statewide, and lower business taxes.

“More than ever, Wisconsin businesses need state government to be a strong partner in rebuilding our economy,” said Dalhoff. “In terms of our recovery, state government must become part of the solution rather than a contributor to the problem.”

About WCCE

The Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executives association is a professional dues association for full and part-time executives and staff members of chambers of commerce in Wisconsin. Founded in 1916, its mission is to advance the management skills and experience of its members in order to help them work with the challenges facing the chamber professional.

About WMC Foundation

The WMC Foundation is a charitable non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to enhancing Wisconsin’s competitiveness. As the charitable arm of WMC, the state’s chamber of commerce, the Foundation works with companies across Wisconsin. Among other initiatives, the Foundation promotes best practices in areas such as healthcare and corporate leadership.

To learn more about WMC and its entities, visit http://www.wmc.org or http://www.wmc-foundation.org, or call (608) 258-3400.