Business Leaders Taking Small Steps Out Of Recession

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(Host) Vermont’s top business leaders are taking some small steps out of the recession.

But they’re being careful because they’re uncertain how health care debates at the state and federal level might affect their companies.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd has more.

(Sneyd) The Vermont Business Roundtable has surveyed the CEOs of 120 companies every quarter for almost eight years.

Each time, it’s asked the same set of questions to gauge where the economy might be going. And the results from the past three months?

(Ventriss) "Well I don’t know what normal is anymore, to be honest with you, not sounding flip."

(Sneyd) Lisa Ventriss is president of the Roundtable. She says many Vermont companies have reshaped themselves through the recession, experimenting with new markets.

But that makes them vulnerable to the trends that drive the economy elsewhere around the country and around the world.

Still, Ventriss says some trends emerge from the Roundtable’s most recent survey.

Three-quarters of the CEOs surveyed say they expect their sales to increase over the next six months.

That’s the good news. The more sobering part of the survey, Ventriss says, is that fewer than half expect to increase capital spending and only 44 percent expect to hire in the next six months.

And based on some other questions the Roundtable has asked its members, she believes the health care debate is the reason.

(Ventriss) "While the numbers had been on an upward trend, they’ve dipped slightly over the last quarter. And so that kind of dampening, I think, is due to the fact that we’re now as a state and a nation talking about some major reforms in a policy area that’s going to hit everybody."

(Sneyd) Ventriss says until health care policy questions are resolved, business leaders will probably remain cautious.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd

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