CBJ Report: Small business owners stay optimistic in second quarter

MGN Online

Every week, the Corridor Business Journal shares stories it's working on with CBS 2 News. Here are some of their top stories that will appear in Monday's edition of the CBJ.

Small business owners stay optimistic in second quarter

Small business owners remained optimistic in the second quarter, according to the latest findings from the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, conducted in April.

In the quarterly survey, which measures the optimism of small business owners, the overall Index score was 95 in April, down from 100 in February when business owners reported being the most optimistic since the start of the Great Recession. The drop is not statistically significant, and small business optimism is still up significantly from a year ago when the Index score was 64, as business owners continue to report improvement across most survey measures.

Many key metrics this quarter were almost unchanged from the first-quarter survey. These included:

• Strong financial situation – Seventy-three percent said their current financial situation is very or somewhat good, up slightly from 71 percent in February

• Healthy revenues – Almost half (46 percent) said their business's revenue increased a little or a lot over the past 12 months, nearly the same as in February when it was 45 percent

• Steady cash flow – Six in 10 (63 percent) said that their cash flow was very or somewhat good over the past 12 months, down one point from 64 percent in February

• Access to credit – Thirty-nine percent said that credit was somewhat or easy to obtain over the past 12 months, about the same as February when it was 40 percent

About a third of small business owners (31 percent) also said they expect the number of jobs or positions at their companies to increase over the next year. Despite their plans to hire, small business owners reported several challenges when it comes to finding new staff. More than half of those surveyed (52 percent) say that finding qualified people to apply for jobs at their businesses is a top challenge.

“It's encouraging to see that for many small business owners 2017 is off to a great start, and they remain optimistic and continue to express confidence in the outlook for their businesses," said Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo head of Small Business. "Our latest survey shows us that more small business owners report plans to hire more employees, increase their capital spending and apply for new credit products in the year ahead. This is consistent with what our bankers are hearing from small business customers today.”

When business owners were asked to identify the most important challenges facing their business today, attracting customers and finding new business rose to the top of the list at 13 percent, followed by hiring and retaining quality staff (11 percent) and the economy (10 percent). Government regulations was listed as a top challenge at 9 percent, down from 14 percent last quarter.

Deere acquiring leading road construction equipment provider

Deere & Company announced today that it has reached an agreement to acquire the Wirtgen Group, a privately-held international company that is the leading manufacturer worldwide of road construction equipment.

Deere said it will pay 4.357 billion Euros, equal to $5.2 billion at today's currency exchange rates, in the all-cash transaction. The deal includes the assumption of net debt and other consideration.

The Wirtgen Group had sales of $2.91 billion in the year ending Dec, 31, 2016. Deere expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings per share and currently expects to fund the acquisition from a combination of cash and new equipment operations debt financing. Detailed financial information concerning the transaction is included in an investor presentation available at

Headquartered in Germany, the Wirtgen Group has five premium brands spanning milling, processing, mixing, paving, compaction and rehabilitation. In a press release, Deere officials said Wirtgen's product portfolio enhances Deere's existing construction equipment offering and establishes Deere as an industry leader in global road construction.

The Wirtgen Group has a global footprint with approximately 8,000 employees and sells products in more than 100 countries through a large network of company-owned and independent dealers.

"The acquisition of the Wirtgen Group aligns with our long-term strategy to expand in both of John Deere's global growth businesses of agriculture and construction," Samuel Allen, Deere chairman and CEO, stated in a press release. "Wirtgen's superb reputation, strong customer relationships and demonstrated financial performance are attractive as we expand the reach of John Deere construction equipment to more customers, markets and geographies."

Scheels getting $2.7M makeover at Coral Ridge Mall

One of the original anchor tenants of Coral Ridge Mall is undertaking a roughly $2.7 million remodeling project to improve the shopping experience.

Scheels All-Sports Branch Manager Cory Tweden said the project will include makeovers of the men's and women's footwear department and new lighting on the upper floor. Facelifts are under way in the front entryway, customer service counter and other high-traffic areas of the store. Mr. Tweden said the company is even installing new tile on 80 percent of the ground floor space.

Scheels is one of the original Coral Ridge Mall anchor stores, having opened in 1998. The target date for completion of the project is July 1, Mr. Tweden said.

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — Every week, the Corridor Business Journal shares stories it's working on with CBS 2 News. Here are some of their top stories that will appear in Monday's edition of the CBJ.

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