Business Matters February 2017 - Page 25

Business confidence is the bellwether of the future direction of our economy , which in turn affects the outlook for local businesses . At the national level , measures of business confidence are considered to be reliable indicators of future economic trends . For this reason , American Bank and South Texas Economic Development Center at Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi began conducting the Survey of Business Conditions for our own metro area in early 2015 .

This quarterly survey consists of eight questions . Basically , respondents are asked about the past conditions of their businesses as well as their business outlook in the immediate future . Between 50 and 75 local business owners and managers took part of the surveys in the past two years .
To summarize , the proportion of respondents experiencing worse business conditions in recent months rose over time in 2015 , but that weakening trend reversed in 2016 . The outlook for the immediate future has also become
brighter over the four quarters of the past year , as concerns about the impacts of low oil prices have subsided .
These survey findings have indeed proved to be good predictors of our local economic conditions . Following a full year of sharp downturns in employment growth in the wake of falling oil prices after 2014 , signs of a revival had become increasingly evident halfway through 2016 . Gauged by local sales tax collections , the slowdown in Corpus Christi ’ s overall business activity has also diminished .
In addition to local entrepreneurs ’ sentiments , the surveys have also been informative about our region ’ s business climate . Texas is widely regarded as the most business friendly state . Corpus Christi is also one of the best cities for Hispanic entrepreneurs , according to WalletHub . Still , other than weak sales conditions , the extent of government regulatory and legal requirements has consistently been viewed as a leading challenge for local small businesses .