Grand Junction chamber’s survey viewed as a ‘mixed bag’

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce members are growing “cautiously optimistic” about the local economy’s future, but not the present, according to a the chamber’s director.

A recent survey of local businesses found 69 percent expect their sales to remain the same or increase in the next six months. Fourteen percent of the 350 businesses that responded to the survey by Tuesday morning said they plan to hire employees by next summer. Another 41 percent will keep employee levels stagnant.

Although businesses have until Saturday to complete the survey, which was launched online Nov. 23, chamber Executive Director Diane Schwenke said the questionnaire is on track to beat the record 395 responses received in a June survey with similar questions. By Tuesday afternoon, 29 more people submitted their responses.

Although the survey shows some merchants are seeing “light at the end of the tunnel,” Schwenke said that light is still a ways off. Just 3 percent of those surveyed believe the local economy will rebound in the first three months of 2010. Twenty percent predict the rebound will come in the second quarter of 2010, while 24 percent see it coming in the third quarter. Fifteen percent don’t see recovery coming to the Grand Valley until the last three months of 2010, and 28 percent don’t think the economy will right itself until 2011. Ten percent weren’t sure.

Eighty-six percent of respondents believe the national economy is weak, down from 91 percent who shared that belief in June. But 79 percent said the local economy is weak or very weak, compared to 66 percent in June. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they plan to reduce staff in the next six months, up from 22 percent a year ago but down from 31 percent in June.

Sixty-three percent of businesses plan to delay capital projects, up from 57 percent a year ago and 61 percent six months ago.

“It’s a mixed bag,” Schwenke said.


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