Wisconsin business leaders are feeling pretty good about the current state of affairs, according to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce's annual economic outlook survey. But businesses in Madison and Dane County may have a dissident view.
The survey indicates that 88% of 192 CEOs surveyed believe Wisconsin is heading in the right direction - up an astounding 78% from last year.
WMC spokesman Jim Pugh couldn't say how Dane County specifically tracked in the survey or how many of its business owners responded. Though unemployment is fairly low and foreclosures are down, thousands of county residents (i.e., public employees) stand to lose millions of dollars in annual purchasing power due to the loss of collective bargaining rights.
And that doesn't bode well for area businesses.
"Business owners who survived the economy since 2008 are now wondering whether they'll survive what the government is doing," says Brad Werntz, founder of Small Business Wisconsin, a Madison-based group. "These businesses survive on the discretionary dollar."
The mayor's office is hearing similar concerns.
"The business people I speak with are very concerned with the situation," says Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. "Let's remember, a robust economy here in Madison helps the rest of the state."
Mary Carbine, executive director of the downtown Business Improvement District, says it's difficult to get an overview, but adds that at least three new businesses are opening or have opened in the State Street area, "which indicates confidence in downtown."
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce declined to comment on the survey results. But Soglin, no fan of WMC, says they should be taken with a grain of salt.
"The WMC surveys are so slanted and biased - talk about drinking the Kool-Aid," he says. "They won't even tell us who is answering the questions."