Annual First Business Economic Survey of Wisconsin Predicts Robust Performance in 2018

Published Wednesday, December 20, 2017

First Business Financial Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: FBIZ), the bank holding company and parent of First Business Bank, releases the cross regional Wisconsin results today of the annualFirst Business Economic Survey.

Each fall, First Business takes the pulse of local businesses through an annual economic survey in Dane County, the Greater Milwaukee Region, Southeast Wisconsin, and Northeast Wisconsin. The survey focuses on the current year’s actual and next year’s predicted: sales revenue, total operating costs, capital expenditures, profitability, number of employees, changes in wages, and changes in pricing.  

First Business underwrites the survey to help business owners achieve a broad-based and up-to-date understanding of the local business climate to better plan for the coming year.  

“Our annual First Business Economic Survey shows widespread optimism for 2018 among Wisconsin business leaders,” says Mark Meloy, CEO of First Business Bank. “It’s notable that more than three out of four business leaders across the four regions project better performance overall in 2018. Indicating a continuation of demand for labor, a majority of business leaders who took the survey plan to add employees in 2018, as well. In the end, we are very encouraged to see that 80% of respondents across Wisconsin reported meeting or exceeding their performance expectations in 2017.”

"With fifteen years of data now in our survey, it’s interesting to see the trends statewide," said Dr. Moses Altsech, a faculty member at UW-Madison and President of Altsech Consulting, the firm conducting the survey. “Most business leaders reported that they experienced positive sales and profitability in 2017, reporting wage increases, as well as plans to invest in their businesses in 2018.”

A summary of findings released today include:

  • A strong percentage of businesses in each region reported increased sales revenue for 2017, ranging from 53-65%
  • 2018 sales revenue increase projections are very strong across all regions (and at historic high levels in Northeast WI), while the percentage of companies expecting a sales decrease marked historic lows in every region
  • More than 80% of companies in each region reported unchanged or increased capital expenditures in 2017
  • The 2018 expectation across regions is that between a third and half of all businesses will further increase capital expenditures
  • 76-93% of companies reported unchanged or increased number of employees in 2017
  • The number of businesses expecting a decrease in employee numbers is at or near historic low levels across all regions
  • 80% of companies across all regions reported meeting or exceeding overall performance expectations
  • Between 29-45% of businesses across all regions reported exceeding expectations
  • The number of businesses expecting a decrease in employee numbers is at or near historic low levels across all regions
  • More than 3/4 of companies across all regions project better performance in 2018

Download each regional First Business Economic Survey Report at

The 2017 First Business Economic Survey was completed by 318 respondents in four regions in Wisconsin.

About First Business
First Business Financial Services, Inc. is a bank holding company and parent of First Business Bank, and is focused on the unique needs of businesses, business executives, and high net worth individuals. First Business offers company retirement plans, commercial banking, specialty finance, and private wealth management solutions, and, through its niche focus, provides clients with unmatched expertise, accessibility, and responsiveness.

Member FDIC, First Business’ corporate headquarters are at 401 Charmany Drive in Madison, WI. For additional information, visit or call 608-238-8008.

The First Business logo is available at .

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