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Optimism on the upswing as small businesses aim to borrow

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Small businesses are feeling better about their ability to borrow money — a major factor behind an increase this summer in the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, which takes the pulse of the mood of small firms.

The nationwide survey, conducted between July 22 and 26, found small-business owners are more optimistic about their ability to access credit over the next year. In the survey, 28 percent of small-business owners said they expect credit to be very or somewhat easy to obtain in the next 12 months, up from 24 percent in the second quarter of 2013 and the highest percentage since 2009.

Thirty percent said they expect credit to be difficult to obtain in the next 12 months — which is down from the 36 percent recorded last quarter, and the lowest this measure has been in five years.

New Jersey's small business mood is in sync with the nation's, according to John Cole, Wells Fargo Northeast business banking division manager.

"As small-business owners feel good about their chances to obtain credit from lenders, they are more likely to invest and grow their businesses, and I think that's also driving some of this optimism," he said.

No one sector of New Jersey's highly diverse economy is leading the way toward this higher level of confidence, Cole said.

"Just anecdotally, the business owners that I'm talking to out in the marketplace are feeling better," he said. "And that is a great sign for everybody in New Jersey."

According to the survey, 25 percent of small-business owners reported an increase in capital spending in the past 12 months, and 26 percent said plan to increase spending in the next 12 months. The top reason business owners cited for not making a capital investment was continued concern about the overall state of the economy (64 percent), followed by uncertainty in the future of their business (57 percent).

E-mail to: beth@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @bethfitzgerald8

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