Provident Bank outlook survey: Small, midsize businesses optimistic about growth, hiring

Large number of biz leaders (83%) expect their firms to grow over next 12 months

Is their hope for a better 2021? Respondents to the Provident Bank Economic Outlook Survey sure feel that way, as 83% said they expect their businesses to grow over the next 12 months — and 77% think the U.S. economy will be much better or slightly better over that same time frame.

This growth will not come without challenges, mainly due to the pandemic. Respondents said their biggest concerns are:

  • Continuing to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic (67%);
  • Revenue and sales growth (48%);
  • Maintaining overall operations and staying open (35%);
  • Health insurance and employee benefit costs (27%);
  • Hiring skilled employees (20%).

Provident Bank’s Economic Outlook Survey was conducted online in January. The bank surveyed 400 business leaders in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with company revenues between $1 million and $50 million.

Provident Bank President and Chief Operating Officer Anthony Labozzetta said the bank was encouraged by the findings.

“We are pleased to find that local business leaders remain optimistic, despite the many challenges stemming from the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns. It is encouraging that most expect growth opportunities in the year ahead,” he said. “Provident Bank looks forward to supporting customers as they begin the process of rebuilding and growing their businesses.”

Most Provident Bank survey respondents agree they will lean on their financial institutions for support over the next year, as nearly 70% report they will need to borrow money from a bank to either expand their business or to ensure survival.

Not surprisingly, remote work will continue to be a trend, as 56% of respondents said staff will work from home or, at the very least, those staff members who have jobs that can be performed at home will work from home. Twenty-eight percent said their employees will gradually return to the office as the pandemic improves. And 78% of respondents expect their business’s capital expenditures to significantly or slightly increase over the next year.

New Jersey respondents think the top challenges for the state will include:

  • Attracting and retaining businesses (63%);
  • Affordable housing (43%);
  • Unemployment/job creation (31%).