Survey: 36% of LI small businesses grew in 2013

Charlie MacLeod, CEO of SMM Advertising, asks a Charlie MacLeod, CEO of SMM Advertising, asks a question at the third annual Bethpage Federal Credit Union Long Island Small Business Survey breakfast at The Crest Hollow Country Club on March 5, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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The outlook for Long Island small businesses improved last year, with 36 percent saying their business expanded in 2013, up from 26 percent in 2012, according to a survey released Wednesday.

And nearly three-quarters of the 604 business owners surveyed said they plan to expand their workforce in the next five years.

But the survey, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union and conducted by the Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research, also showed that just 12 percent have confidence that officials in Washington will make progress in 2014 to improve business conditions nationally, down from 27 percent who expected progress last year.

"We're in something of a national funk," said Leonie Huddy, a Stony Brook professor of political science who directed the survey and was on a panel Wednesday at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury where the results were presented. "Part of that is due to government in Washington and the dysfunction we see there." Bethpage FCU hosted the panel discussion, which was attended by local business people.

On Long Island a growing number of executives said business conditions here are improving, with 36 percent citing conditions as very good or fairly good, up from 32 percent in 2012 and 19 percent in 2011.

Still, a higher percentage said they're considering moving off the Island: Twenty percent said it is somewhat likely or very likely they'll move their business off Long Island in the next five years, up from 14 percent in 2012.

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Executives at businesses with annual revenues of up to $10 million were questioned in the last quarter of 2013.

"Overall what you see in the 2013 survey is very positive news," said Bethpage Federal CEO Kirk Kordeleski, who presented the results. "Clearly the outlook is improving and consumer confidence is on the rise."

Just over half of business owners said stress and financial pressures were the worst personal aspect of owning a business, and 29 percent report working 60 hours per week.

The survey also found that most small businesses -- 65 percent -- are not using social media tools to communicate with clients and customers. But when companies do use social media, 64 percent said it has helped to increase sales.

Charlie MacLeod, president of SMM Advertising in Smithtown, who attended Wednesday's presentation, said he felt "very good about the results" and was optimistic that business owners predicted increased sales in 2014.

At his own firm, he said, 2013 sales were about the same as 2012's, but he anticipates increased sales this year.

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