More Chamber Enterprises Plan to Add Jobs, Confidence on the Rise; Focus on “Economic Growth” Again Leads Annual Chamber Member Economic Survey

For the fourth consecutive year, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce member enterprises cite �Economic Growth� as their top public policy interest as nearly half of those enterprises plan to add jobs while business confidence remains on the rise 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 2011 and January 2012. National and regional economic news, which lately has suggested some better economic conditions, shows marginally in the Chamber survey response: 45.1% of the 2012 Chamber survey responded that they plan to add jobs, up very slightly from last year�s 44.5% but still off from 2006-08 survey levels of more than half of respondents. The steady news on jobs was that 51.2% anticipate holding level on jobs with only 3.7% anticipating job decreases.  Regarding profitability, 52.2% of Chamber members expect to see growth in 2012 � again up from last year�s 50.0% and 2010�s 44.3%, 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.�   National and local economic news also continue to affect the survey responses on the subject of leading public policy concerns.  �Economic Growth� 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 the 2011 survey, �Economic Growth� was at 25.7%, sustained in 2012�s 25.94% response, far outdistancing other leading public policy issues cited as facing Greater Charlottesville.  Other issues cited in order were: �Education� (9%), �Housing Affordability� (9%), �Health Care� (9%), �Transportation� (7.61%), and �Taxes-Federal & Virginia Income� (5.79%). �Our Chamber members, although still cautious, have some measure of increased confidence about this year,� stated Valerie Long, of Williams Mullen, who serves as the 2012 Chamber First Vice Chairwoman.  �Our businesses have an improved outlook while remaining focused and confident on staying successful, and this year � adding and holding steady on jobs.� The 2012 Chamber Member Economic Survey results reveal perspectives on business growth and vitality of the Greater Charlottesville regional economy.  The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce released the results of their tenth annual economic survey of members for its 2012 Chamber Business Luncheon � underwritten by Virginia National Bank � held last week and detailed again at today�s Chamber Board of Directors meeting. Business confidence, for the most part, is on the rise although the fragile economic improvement is still cause for some continuing business concern.  In this year�s survey response, 60.7% cite no expansion plans for 2012, unfortunately up from the 55.6% who cited no expansion in 2011, but still improved over the 69.7% who saw no expansion in 2009.  This year 61.1% anticipate increased business revenues, a slight decrease from 2011�s 62.5%.  This year 29.0% foresee no change or a decrease in revenues, which is slightly up from last year�s 28.2%, but again, 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 its member service and member advocacy across a range of issues.  In the past several years, 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,� President Timothy Hulbert added.  �Our Chamber�s �hip-bone-is-connected-to-the-thigh-bone� 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; better regional transportation; and, building the brainpower, good health and housing, that are crucial to the economic vitality and quality of life in our communities.� In December 2011, the Chamber mailed its economic survey to approximately 850 Chamber main member representatives along with their annual membership dues statement.  As of January 31, 168 valid survey responses (a 19.8% response rate) were received at the Chamber and the results tabulated.  The 2012 Chamber Member Economic Survey was tabulated and presented by the Chamber professional staff with the assistance of Ms. Farah Ahmad, a Chamber University of Virginia 4th Year Student Intern.  More information on the 2012 Chamber Member Economic Survey or other Chamber programs and activities is available at Continuing from the previous four 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 94.2% of the survey responses.  A healthy 76.4% responded that the Chamber provides its members �excellent� or �very good� member service and another 17.8% rating Chamber member service as �good.�

Our Mission

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to representing private enterprise, promoting business, and enhancing the quality of life in our Greater Charlottesville communities.