Kirk Kordeleski speaks about the Long Island Small Business Survey...

Kirk Kordeleski speaks about the Long Island Small Business Survey at the LIA Small Business & Sole Proprietor Committee meeting in Melville. (April 26, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Long Island's economy and access to credit remain challenges for small businesses, a new survey says, but many owners of these enterprises are happy with their decision to be their own boss.

The telephone survey of 612 Long Island small business executives, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, revealed that they still see significant hurdles but have experienced some stability and, in some cases, growth. The study, which was conducted by Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research, questioned executives of businesses with annual revenues up to $10 million about issues ranging from the financial health to personal satisfaction.

"The future of Long Island depends upon our ability to nurture the growth of small businesses and provide them with the tools that will make it possible for them to succeed," Kirk Kordeleski, chairman of the Long Island Association and chief executive of Bethpage Federal, said in prepared remarks. Kordeleski was scheduled to present the survey results Thursday at the inaugural meeting of the Long Island Association's 2012 Small Business Committee.

Of those surveyed, 52 percent rated their financial health as excellent, very good or good, while 46 percent said their status was not very good, fair or poor. Seventy-nine percent of business executives expected their sales to stay the same or increase in 2012.

The survey showed a small improvement in hiring prospects for these companies. In 2011, 11 percent of the businesses increased the number of employees and 15 percent decreased their labor force. This year 16 percent said they plan to expand their number of employees and seven percent said they would decrease their staff.

Obtaining credit remains a problem for small businesses, with 55 percent saying that they found borrowing somewhat or very difficult.

The executives were split in terms of planned expansion over the next five years, with 51 percent saying that they were likely to expand and 45 percent saying that was unlikely, the report said. Forty percent of the participants rated the current economic conditions on Long Island as fairly bad and 38 percent described it as very bad.

Their outlook for the coming 12 months appeared to improve, but most were still pessimistic. About 37 percent said they were very or somewhat optimistic about business conditions locally and 62 percent said they were very or somewhat pessimistic.

Even with all the challenges they face, small business owners said they were happy as entrepreneurs. Eighty-nine percent said they were satisfied with their decision to own a business. Family life and marriages also benefitted from this choice, with 58 percent saying it had a positive effect.

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