December 16, 2010

Northeast Wisconsin Businesses Indicate Improvements for 2010

(APPLETON, WI) - December 16, 2010 - Northeast Wisconsin Businesses saw increased sales revenue and improved 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 Northeast Wisconsin, 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, Insight Publications, and NorthStar Economics showed sales revenues jumped 30 percent -from 20 percent in 2009 to 50 percent in 2010. The percentage of firms showing increased profitability increased by 12.5 percent to nearly 45 percent.

"There is an upswing in economic activity," says David Ward, CEO of NorthStar Economics. "While we are certainly not out of the woods yet, these improvements are moving us in the right direction."

A key area of improvement is in the manufacturing sector where approximately 68 percent of manufacturing firms reported increased sales in 2010 compared to 17 percent in 2009. Capacity utilization is also on the upswing with 80 percent of businesses reporting they are operating at 70 percent capacity or higher.

Another key economic indicator, number of employees, increased significantly in 2010 with the manufacturing sector reporting a nearly 25 percent increase in the number of employees from 12.9 percent in 2009 to 37.7 percent in 2010. In addition, businesses in Northeast Wisconsin indicated a significant increase in wages for 2010, with 43 percent experiencing an increase in wage changes.

While major indicators are positive, 43 percent of Northeast Wisconsin businesses did not meet their self-imposed expectations for 2010. Ward says this points to the necessity for guarded optimism. "In many areas, we are still below pre-recession (2004-2007) levels," says Ward. "We need to be prepared for a slow, steady climb out of these somber economic times."

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.

"Business expectations are not markedly better than last year," says Mickey Noone, President - Northeast Region of First Business Bank. "But it’s clear that the business community is coping with economic conditions and using their resources to move forward."

First Business Bank has been conducting the economic survey of Northwest Wisconsin for the past three 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. Full survey results are available by clicking here.

First Business Bank - Northeast is headquartered at 3913 W. Prospect Avenue in Appleton. In addition to offering commercial loan products, First Business Bank - Northeast offers a full line of deposit, investment, and equipment finance products through its affiliates First Business Bank - Madison and First Business Trust & Investments. Among these products are: remote deposit, treasury management, Internet banking, retirement plans, investment management services, trust services, asset-based lending, and equipment finance and leasing. For additional information, call 920-734-1800.

Editor’s note: A live web video stream and blog of the event is being provided by ARK Media. The web streaming begins at 4 p.m. at

For a third party response to the survey, please contact Jeffrey Sachse at the Department of Workforce Development at 920.448.5268 or
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.

The First Business Financial Services, Inc. logo is available at

Jodie Johnson
AVP - Marketing
First Business Financial Services, Inc.