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State chamber poll indicates employers plan for growth in '23

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A statewide poll recently released by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows a mixed outlook for the year ahead, according to state business leaders.

While a large majority expect their companies will make some sort of investment in 2023, they also predict that growing crime, workforce shortages and rising inflation will limit their growth, according to a news release.

The poll, conducted by research firm CHS and Associates, surveyed more than 600 Missouri CEOs and business leaders, representing every region of the state and business size.

“Every year, the Missouri chamber asks CEOs and top business leaders at companies throughout the state to share their thoughts on the economy, the business climate, the direction of our state and more,” said Daniel Mehan, the Missouri chamber’s president and CEO, in the release. “Conducted by an independent research firm, the Missouri chamber CEO poll helps determine where and how the Missouri chamber should focus its attention in the year ahead.”

According to the poll, nearly half of all businesses surveyed plan to increase their workforce, while 38% expect the employee count to remain around the same level. Roughly 12% expect a workforce decrease.

More than 80% say their companies plan to make business investments in the upcoming year, with only 14% planning none.

However, poll respondents also shared areas of concern, Mehan said.

“Headwinds such as growing public safety concerns, lack of available talent and rising inflation are slowing economic growth in our state,” he said in the release, noting the chamber recently released its 2023 legislative agenda. “During the 2023 legislative session, we will make addressing these concerns a priority.”

According to the poll, two-thirds of employers said the rising crime rate in Missouri is impacting the state’s economic competitiveness. Most employers – 60% – said public safety and crime were a growing issue, while 24% of business leaders said they were currently their top concern.

“To see public safety as a top 10 concern of our business community is alarming,” Mehan said in the release. “The time for action is now.”

Business leaders support several tactics to address public safety, according to the poll. Those include increasing funding for areas such as law enforcement, mental health and substance abuse services, and boosting job training for those in prison.

In the poll, workforce is the top concern of Missouri employers at 38%.

“When meeting with businesses, I hear over and over, we have the jobs, but we just can’t find the people to fill them,” Mehan said in the release. “Ramping up programs that can quickly and efficiently train workers for high-demand fields is a must.”

The Missouri chamber is asking lawmakers to give employers more tools to retain their current workers through the creation of a short-term credentialing program, according to the release. This grant program would reimburse employers who help their employees earn short-term certificates or credentials in the fields of technology and health care. A similar program in Ohio has been successful, according to chamber officials.

More on the Missouri chamber’s legislative agenda will be in the Jan. 16 issue of Springfield Business Journal.


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