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News & Press: FOCUS

Many Reasons for Optimism

Friday, February 2, 2018  
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By Tim Daman, President and CEO

A recent national headline caught my attention and spoke to sentiments we hear frequently around the Greater Lansing region. It read: “The engine of the economy roared back to life: U.S. small-business confidence hit a record high in 2017” — Business Insider, January 9, 2018.

As we start 2018, that trend of positive optimism is carrying over to a number of fronts. A recent survey by the U.S. Chamber showed that two-thirds of small to mid-sized businesses expect higher revenues and profits over the next 12 months, and more than one-half expect to hire more employees. U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue recently stated: “What is the state of American business today? It is strong – but determined to grow stronger.”

Manufacturers are also part of this trend. The National Association of Manufacturers survey of 14,000 members showed more than 94 percent had a positive outlook on the economy.

Locally, we see the very same trendlines. Membership retention and development at the Lansing Regional Chamber are among the best in the nation. Again in 2017, we topped 90 percent in retention levels – which ranks in the top 10 percent of all Chambers in the nation. We have welcomed 345 new members to the Chamber in the past 24 months!

Small business is the engine of our economy. Eighty-five percent of our members are small businesses. Much of our new job growth and investment in the region comes from the entrepreneurial spirit we see in our small business members. In 2017, the Chamber celebrated 55 ribbon cuttings recognizing grand openings, new business investments, milestones and groundbreakings from our members throughout the region. Total investments from these ribbon cuttings was an astounding $95 million with 500 jobs created — primarily from small businesses! We continue to see business investment, growth and job creation in Greater Lansing.

An additional catalyst sparking business optimism in 2018 was the recent passage of the federal tax reform package — the first major tax reform in more than 30 years. Our member survey showed overwhelming support for the tax reform package. The Chamber team worked closely with our Congressional delegation to communicate the level of support in the region. Our members have told us once the tax reform legislation was passed they would hire more workers, increase benefits and invest more capital into their businesses. We are encouraged to see our business community reinvesting in our people and local economy.

The level of momentum in our regional economy has increased further with the recent announcements by McLaren Greater Lansing and Michigan State University of their plans to construct a major new medical center on Lansing’s south end, and the Lansing Board of Water and Light announced plans to build a new power plant on the west side of the metro area. These two projects combined will result in nearly $1 billion in new investment in the next few years. These two exciting projects also open up major opportunities for redevelopment of existing facilities in the region.

We can expect to see many other exciting announcements for new investments in our region in 2018. The indicators are all pointed in the right direction. There are many reasons for optimism and we’re just getting started.

Click here to download the February issue of FOCUS.

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