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BMO Harris Bank Study: Kansas Business Owners More Optimistic About the 2014 U.S. Economic Outlook Than Their Missouri Counterparts

KANSAS CITY, MO -- (Marketwired) -- 01/15/14 --

  • Thirty-two percent of Kansas business owners believe the U.S. economy will improve in 2014.
  • Only 19 percent of Missouri business owners agree that the economy will be better, half look for it to remain the same.
  • A large majority of owners across both sides of the border feel that their business will either grow or stay at the same level in 2014.

BMO Harris Bank released a study today that found that business owners in both Kansas and Missouri are optimistic for the prospects for success of their own businesses for the coming year. However, Kansas respondents are more optimistic than the Show-Me State owners with their 2014 outlook of the national U.S. economy. A large majority of business owners across both sides of the border feel that their business will either grow or stay at the same level in 2014 (Kansas: 86 percent, Missouri: 90 percent).

"It's good news that business owners have confidence in their own individual company prospects," said Todd Senger, Managing Director, Commercial Banking, Kansas City, BMO Harris Bank. "While there has certainly been progress to date, there is still some apprehension with the prospects for the overall U.S. economy."

When business owners in Kansas and Missouri were asked of their expectations for the national economy, Kansas respondents were much more optimistic:

  • Kansas - 32 percent expect the economy to improve; 29 percent expect it to remain the same
  • Missouri - 19 percent expect it to improve; 50 percent expect it to remain the same
  • The two states were closer in their responses when asked if they expect the U.S. economy to worsen (Kansas: 39 percent; Missouri: 31 percent).

Kansas business owners continue their more optimistic outlook when asked specifically about their state economy:

  • 78 percent of respondents in Kansas feel that the local economy will improve or stay the same in 2014.
  • 64 percent of Missouri business owners believe their own economy will stay the same or improve.
  • 36 percent in Missouri believe their state economy will worsen; compared to 22 percent in Kansas who feel theirs will worsen.

More than half of the business owners in both states believe their own business will grow in 2014 (Kansas: 54 percent Missouri 53 percent). A third of them feel that it will remain the same (Kansas: 32 percent, Missouri 37 percent). Only 10 percent of Missouri business owners believe their business will shrink in 2014, compared to 14 percent of Kansas business owners.

Respondents were also asked to identify what they felt was the largest advantage to doing business in their home state compared to elsewhere in the United States. Answers varied, but the top responses were:

  • Affordable Cost of Living (Missouri: 26 percent, Kansas: 11 percent)
  • Lower Taxes (Missouri 18 percent, Kansas: 4 percent)
  • Good People (Kansas: 11 percent, Missouri: 3 percent)
  • Good/Central Location (Missouri 11 percent, Kansas: < 1 percent)
  • Skilled Workers/Work Ethic (Kansas: 8 percent, Missouri: 3 percent)

"Both Kansas and Missouri have a number of solid companies that have weathered the economic downturn well," added Mr. Senger. "We have seen increased activity from businesses looking for capital to fund projects that had been put on hold during the recession."

National Results from the Survey

When business owners throughout the country were asked about their expectations for the economy, the results were as follows:

  • 37 percent expect the economy to improve.
  • 34 percent expect it to stay the same.
  • 29 percent expect the economy to worsen.

Owners of businesses with revenues over $20 million per year were significantly more optimistic, both in their own prospects and in their outlook for the economy:

  • 68 percent feel their business will grow in 2014, vs. 53 percent of all businesses.
  • 45 percent feel the U.S. economy will improve in 2014, vs. 37 percent for all businesses.

Survey findings can be found at the BMO Harris Commercial Resource Center: 2014 business outlook.

Positive Forecast for 2014 from BMO Economics

A recent report from BMO Economics on U.S. economic prospects for 2014 was considerably upbeat, given a combination of record levels of household wealth, lower debt, lower gas prices and improved prospects for employment.

"The clouds are parting, and therefore we're forecasting GDP growth of 2.9 percent for the coming year," said Michael Gregory, Head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. "We foresee increased consumer spending and business investment along with export growth and improved household finances all playing a part in creating strong growth in 2014."

The survey was conducted by Pollara with an online sample of 601 American business owners (including an oversample of 51 Kansas and 50 Missouri owners) in November, 2013. A probability sample of this size would be accurate to +/- 4%, 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris® and BMO Harris Bank® are trade names used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and approximately CDN $537 billion in assets (as of Oct. 31, 2013).

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