December 08, 2010

Dane County Businesses Saw Improvements in 2010

FIRST BUSINESS ECONOMIC SURVEY OF DANE COUNTY INDICATES BUSINESSES SAW IMPROVEMENTS IN 2010
Sales, Profits and Revenue up in 2010


(MADISON, WI) - December 8, 2010 - Dane County businesses saw improved sales, revenue and profits in 2010, according to a report released today by First Business Bank at the invitation-only First Business Economic Forum.

The First Business Economic Survey of Dane County, sponsored by First Business Bank and conducted by the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business, showed that sales revenue saw the biggest change of any single indicator as 42 percent of businesses reported increased sales revenue and 56 percent of businesses met or exceeded expectations compared to only 48 percent in 2009. This is a reversal of a trend of decreased sales revenue which lasted from 2005-2009.

"Compared to last year, this is a very positive report," says Scott Converse of the UW-Madison School of Business. "The data is showing a definite rebound effect for Dane County businesses. I’m especially pleased with the numbers in the manufacturing sector."

Manufacturing made significant improvements. The percentage of firms reporting an increase in sales revenue increased by more than 40 percentage points, from 8.5 percent in 2009 to 50 percent in 2010. The survey also indicates that the percentage of firms showing an increase in profitability improved for the first time since 2006.

The survey reported that the percentage of businesses increasing wages or the number of employees did not significantly change. There was a noteworthy decrease in the percentage of firms that decreased wages in 2010, down from 23.2 percent in 2009 to 16.6 percent in 2010. The percentage of businesses that reported cutting employees dropped to 33 percent in 2010 from 40 percent in 2009.

Converse says these two economic indicators, staffing and wages, are very telling. "While the report shows a positive trend, I’m tempering my enthusiasm. Employee headcount and wages are still lagging behind the other economic indicators, and all indicators are still below their pre-recession levels. We’ve still got some work ahead of us," says Converse.

This guarded optimism seems to be carrying into expectations for 2011 as nearly 80 percent of businesses expect to perform better in the coming year, up only slightly from 2009.

"Business expectations are modestly better than last year," says Mark Meloy, President and CEO of First Business Bank, "which is consistent with direct conversations I have with business owners in the community. There is always a correlation between uncertainty and risk and as business owners’ confidence increases so will their willingness to invest in their companies’ future."

Each year the survey asks a current event question. In 2010, businesses were asked what techniques they used to weather the downturn in the economy. The number one response from businesses was "improving internal efficiencies". More than half of respondents indicated this was a major force that
made the greatest difference in getting through the tough economy.

First Business Bank has been conducting the economic survey of Dane County for the past eight years. The survey was based on the responses of 449 businesses across the county. The sample size has an error range of 5 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent. Click here for full survey results.

ABOUT FIRST BUSINESS BANK
First Business Bank was established by area business owners and investors in 1990 to specialize in quality business banking for the local business community. First Business Bank offers a full line of financial services for businesses and business owners including: commercial lending, treasury management, private banking, retirement plans, investment management services, trust services, asset-based lending, and equipment finance and leasing. For additional information, call 608-238-8008.

Editor’s note: A live web video stream and blog of the event is being provided by Channel3000. The web streaming begins at 8:00 a.m. at Channel3000.com.

For a third party response to the survey, please contact Eric Grosso at the Department of Workforce Development at 608-266-7034 or eric.grosso@dwd.wisconsin.gov.

About First Business Financial Services, Inc.

First Business Financial Services (Nasdaq:FBIZ) is a $1.3 billion Wisconsin-based bank holding company that specializes in focused financial solutions for businesses, key executives, and high net worth individuals through its operating companies. Its companies include: First Business Bank - Madison; First Business Bank - Milwaukee; First Business Bank - Northeast; First Business Trust & Investments; First Business Equipment Finance, LLC; and First Business Capital Corp. For additional information, visit www.firstbusiness.com or call (608) 238-8008.

The First Business Financial Services, Inc. logo is available at http://www.firstbusiness.com/logo

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Contact:
Jodie Johnson
AVP - Marketing
First Business Financial Services, Inc.
608-232-5910
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