December 16, 2008

Economic Survey Shows Business Leaders Remain Optimistic

More businesses in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties expect to see improvements in 2009, according to a report to be released Tuesday by First Business Bank, Carroll University, and A.C. Nielsen Center of Marketing Research at the invitation-only First Business Economic Forum.

The survey, sent in October 2008 to 7,500 CEOs, CFOs, presidents and business owners in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties, asked questions regarding eight key economic indicators: sales revenue, profitability, total operating costs as a percentage of revenue, capital expenditures, number of employees, overall wage change, change in pricing, and operating capacity. The survey also asked questions regarding changes in expenses, and the impact of the housing market slowdown. The report is based on responses from 495 businesses. The sample size has an error range of .05 and a confidence level of 95 percent.

On Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008, Dr. Greg Kuhlemeyer, dean of the Division of Professional and Graduate Studies, and Matthias Bollmus, instructor of business at Carroll University, will present the survey’s key findings:

  • The retail sector has been hit harder than other industries due to a plethora of issues related to gas prices, higher operating costs, and a need to pass on price increases.

  • Local firms that sell to Milwaukee and Waukesha markets are under performing local firms that sell regionally or nationally/internationally.

  • The stress on revenue and profits from high operating costs includes wages and raw materials.

  • The percent of firms expecting to improve in 2009 exceeds actual 2008 performance.

  • Fuel and raw material costs, a top reason for poor performance, have decreased dramatically.

  • The technology sector appears to be positioning for a positive move in 2009 and the manufacturing sector shows strength.

The survey results indicate that continued challenges lie ahead, but with possible post-survey improvements in both commodity prices and fuel costs, business leaders have reason to remain optimistic.

A round table discussion will follow the presentation with scheduled participants: Cliff Anglewicz, CEO of Yale Equipment Services, Inc.; Sue Marks, CEO of Pinstripe, Inc.; Rob Parry, CEO of ZBB Energy Corporation; and John Pence, CEO of W.J. Pence Company. Dave Vetta, President & CEO of First Business Bank - Milwaukee will chair and moderate the event.

The complete 33-page report prepared by Chanchal Tamrakar, Paul Hahn and Michael Kirk of the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research, will be available on the First Business Website, (see Featured Links), starting Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008.

About First Business Bank - Milwaukee First Business Bank - Milwaukee was established in 2000 to provide a full range of commercial banking services to Milwaukee-area businesses and business people. It is chartered as a unit bank with a CEO, not a branch president, and a board of directors rather than an advisory board. This structure allows it to understand Milwaukee-area businesses and respond quickly and proactively to their needs.

About Carroll University Carroll, Wisconsin’s oldest four-year institution of higher education is an independent, co-educational comprehensive university grounded in the liberal arts tradition. Incorporated in 1846, it offers bachelor’s degrees in 41 majors and graduate degrees in education and software engineering, as well as a clinical doctorate in physical therapy. The institution’s name was changed from Carroll College to Carroll University on July 1, 2008.
About First Business Financial Services, Inc.

First Business Financial Services, Inc. (Nasdaq:FBIZ) is a Wisconsin-based bank holding company, focused on the unique needs of businesses, business executives, and high net worth individuals. First Business offers commercial banking, specialty finance, and private wealth management solutions, and because of its niche focus, is able to provide its clients with unmatched expertise, accessibility, and responsiveness. For additional information, visit or call (608) 238-8008.

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Jodie Johnson
Assistant Vice President - Marketing
First Business Financial Services, Inc.
(608) 232-5910