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Houston Leads Country In Small Business Optimism, Survey Finds

The city’s increasing economic diversity may play a role.

Florian Martin/Houston Public Media
Most business owners in Houston believe the local economy will improve this year.


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Two-thirds of small business owners in Houston believe the local economy will improve this year, compared to half of entrepreneurs nationwide, according to a survey by Bank of America.

The survey also found that small business owners in Houston are more optimistic in a number of other categories, including revenue, hiring and business expansion.

Houston has led the country in small business outlook for some years, Joseph Hamidi, small business market manager at Bank of America, told News 88.7. He attributes it to the increased diversification of the local economy, which used to be much more reliant on oil and gas.

"The growth in that diversity here has allowed us to become not only stable, but thrive in times where national diversity or national industry dips," Hamidi said.

Houston's numbers fell compared to when the survey was done last fall. Then, three-fourths of business owners expected the Houston economy to improve.

But Hamidi said he isn't concerned about that because confidence usually slips from fall to spring.

"We also seemed to have some drops due to the government shutdown at the very beginning of the year, so it was expected," he said. "But the fact that we're still above the national average and we're continuing to see this number grow is definitely a positive trend."

The survey also found two-thirds of small business owners in Houston are concerned about the current political environment.

Hamidi said it was the first time the survey listed that as an option.

"Normally we've seen tax changes and/or healthcare, healthcare has consistently been No. 1," he said, calling the new result "eye-opening."

Fifty-five percent of small business owners in Houston said the new tax code has had an impact on their business, of those 36% said it has been positive – down from 46% who anticipated a positive impact a year ago.

Houston's small businesses are also preparing for the next natural disaster — 70% said they have a plan to keep business going in case of a flood, fire or other disaster.

"Converting things from paper to digital and having backup and having things set in other places as well as having a continuity plan and a contact plan for all associates to make sure that they know what's going on, when it's going on and how things are going to be moving forward in case of a natural disaster," Hamidi said.

Thirty percent reported being concerned about climate change affecting their business.

View the full Bank of America Spring 2019 Small Business Owner Report:

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