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Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce Releases Annual Data - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce Releases Annual Data

Posted: Updated: Feb 21, 2013 05:32 AM EST

Business in the Charlottesville area seems confident with the economy right now. But a survey by the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce shows growth and vitality are still a concern.

The chamber released data from its Annual Member Economic Survey Thursday. The bottom line is better national and regional economic news boosts confidence in the area. But the biggest uncertainty still seems to circle around jobs.

The survey shows 42 percent of employers plan to add jobs this year -- that's down from last year's 45 percent. However, 12 percent anticipate job reductions. That's up from last year's 3.7 percent.

As for business growth, 55.8 percent of chamber members expect some kind of growth this year - which is up than 3.6 percent from last year. Members are anticipating growth because 69.2 percent expect revenue to increase this year - an expectation that's up 61.1 percent from last year.

Aside from job and business growth, the survey showed most members were also concerned about housing affordability, taxes, land use, and transportation. The results are based on 54 responses received as of February 8. The survey was sent to approximately 850 Chamber members.

The Chamber presented the findings at its annual luncheon Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn on Emmet Street.


Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce
Press Release

(Charlottesville, Virginia– February 21) For the fifth consecutive year, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce member enterprises cite "Economic Growth & Vitality" as their top public policy interest as two of five of those enterprises plan to add jobs while business confidence remains steady in the response to the Chamber's annual member economic survey.

The Annual Chamber Member Economic Survey, which takes an annual reading of the leading representatives of Chamber enterprises, offers an insight index into Chamber members' economic and policy concerns. The survey responses came in over December 2012 until February 8, 2013.

National and regional economic news, which have suggested some better economic indicators, show in the Chamber survey response: 42% of the 2013 Chamber survey responded that they plan to add jobs, down slightly from last year's 45% and still off from 2006-08 survey levels of more than half of respondents. The steady news on jobs was that 46% anticipate holding level on jobs. However 12% anticipate job reductions, up significantly from the 3.7% anticipating job decreases in last year's survey. Regarding profitability, 55.8% of Chamber members expect to see growth in 2013 – again up from last year's 52.2% and 2011's 50.0%, and closer to the consistent 52% – 64% levels of the several years leading up to the recession.

Chamber members were also asked to rank from a list of 20 public policy issues those they "…think will have the greatest consequences on the future economic vitality and quality of life of our Greater Charlottesville region." Again, national and local economic news continue to affect the survey responses on the subject of leading public policy concerns. "Economic Growth & Vitality" has always been a top three public policy issue in the surveys. Since the "Great Recession" of 2008-2009, it leaped over all others as the top public policy concern of Chamber members. In this year's survey "Economic Growth & Vitality" registered a 28.75% response, the highest of all ten previous Chamber surveys (2012=25.94%; 2011= 25.7%). This issue far outdistanced other leading public policy issues cited as facing Greater Charlottesville. Other issues cited in order were: "Education" (7.67%), "Housing Affordability" (7.67%), "Taxes-Federal & Virginia Income" (7.35%), "Land Use Management (7.35%) and, "Transportation" (7.03%). "Health Care," which was consistently a top five concern during the national debate over the issue dropped from a 9%-10.5% level to 4.47% this year.

"Our Chamber members, although still holding a measure of confidence, indicate some uncertainty on jobs," stated Valerie Long, of Williams Mullen, who serves as the 2013 Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors. "While our businesses hold an improved business outlook on staying successful this year and nine of ten see steady or added job levels, more than one in ten has real concerns about jobs."

The 2013 Chamber Member Economic Survey results reveal perspectives on business growth and vitality of the Greater Charlottesville regional economy. The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce will release the results of their eleventh annual economic survey of members for its 2013 Annual Chamber Business Luncheon – underwritten by Virginia National Bank – held today at the Holiday Inn on Emmet Street.

Business confidence, for the most part, is on the rise although the pace of economic improvement is still cause for some continuing business concern. In this year's survey response, 59% cite no expansion plans for 2013, on par with last year's 60.7% response and up from the 55.6% who cited no expansion in 2011. (By comparison 69.7% saw no expansion in 2009.)

This year 69.2% responded that they anticipate increased business revenues; up from 61.1% last year and 2011's 62.5%. This year, 23% foresee no change or a decrease in revenues, down from last year's 29.0% response, and 28.2% in 2011, and much better than 2010's response of 36.3% and 2009's 49.4%.

The Chamber's public policy focus and other activities are key to the Chamber's member service and advocacy across a range of issues. In the past decade, the Chamber has sharpened and reinforced its focus on economic growth, housing, transportation, education, and career job development issues.

"We reaffirm this each year – our member enterprises state loud and clear – to maintain the Chamber's first focus on economic growth & vitality," President Timothy Hulbert added. "Our Chamber's conviction is founded on the knowledge that these leading issues are intrinsically interrelated. Our Chamber remains on course – focused on keeping the engines of enterprise fueled to sustain and increase a diverse and vibrant economy – career-ladder job opportunities; building the brainpower, better housing and regional transportation that are crucial to the economic vitality and quality of life in our communities."

In December 2012, the Chamber mailed its economic survey to approximately 850 Chamber main member representatives along with their annual membership dues statement. As of February 8, 2013, 54 valid survey responses (a 6.4% response rate) were received at the Chamber and the results tabulated. The 2013 Chamber Member Economic Survey was tabulated and presented by the Chamber professional staff with the assistance of Ms. Christine Milton, a Chamber University of Virginia 4th Year Student Intern. More information on the 2013 Chamber Member Economic Survey or other Chamber programs and activities is available at cvillechamber.com.

Continuing from the previous five Chamber Member Economic Surveys, the Chamber included a survey question about its own Chamber member service to its member enterprises. The Chamber received positive member service ratings on 91.8% of the survey responses. A healthy 71.4% responded that the Chamber provides its members "excellent" or "very good" member service and another 20.41% rating Chamber member service as "good."

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to representing private enterprise, promoting business and enhancing the quality of life in the greater Charlottesville communities. Founded in 1913, today, the Chamber's more than 1,300 member and affiliate enterprises employ more than 45,000 people in Greater Charlottesville, representing an estimated total payroll of more than $1.75 billion a year.

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