MetroWest business optimism rises

BY Grant Welker

File photo
File photo
TJX companies, headquartered in Framingham. Framingham and MetroWest businesses are optimistic about their outlook.

MetroWest businesses are more optimistic than they were a year ago and expect the regional economy to be better in the coming year, according to a survey released Friday.
A survey of 190 businesses conducted for the 495/MetroWest Partnership found 54 percent say business conditions in the region are better than a year ago. Only 5 percent said they were worse, with the remainder saying that conditions remained the same.
A similar rate of 59 percent said the MetroWest economy will improve slightly in the coming year. About 12 percent said the area economy would improve significantly, while only 5 percent thought the economy would decline slightly. No respondents thought the economy would decline significantly.
Optimism extended to hiring.
Nearly half -- 48 percent -- said they expect to hire additional staff in the coming year, compared to 26 percent who said they didn't plan to hire. Three out of four respondents said they expect revenue increases in the coming year -- 13 percent of those forecasting growth of 20 percent or more.
Businesses said the region's best assets were the quality of the labor force, proximity to clients and affordable real estate. Healthcare costs, transportation and skills gaps for applicants were rated as the top challenges.
The survey was conducted in September for the 495/MetroWest Partnership by Michael Harrison, the director of the MBA program at Framingham State University.