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Minn. businesses are cautiously optimistic

Minnesota employers are cautiously optimistic about the state's economic future but are not confident the state has fully emerged from the four-year national recession.

These findings highlighted the ninth annual Minnesota Business Barometer Survey, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Himle Rapp and Company, a public affairs firm headquartered in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Chamber is the state's largest business advocacy organization representing 2,400 companies of all types and sizes across the state. In nearly all areas of the survey, the opinions of the general business community aligned with those of Minnesota Chamber members.

This year, questions concerning the economy continued to provide mixed results.

For the first time in several years, the survey showed that optimism is slowly returning among businesses.

Thirty-one percent said the economy is getting better compared with 13 percent a year ago.

However, only 21 percent of the respondents reported profits were better than a year ago, while 25 percent reported lower profits than in the previous year.

In addition, an equal number of employers reported reducing their number of employees as reported an increase.

As the Business Barometer has found in other years, 84 percent of business owners and managers stated they were very or somewhat optimistic about Minnesota's economic future over the next 10 years.

"While business owners have a positive long-term outlook, the survey identifies real barriers to job creation," Minnesota Chamber President David Olson said.

"To cash in on this long-term optimism, the governor and Legislature must take timely action to address these concerns - if they want companies to stay and invest in Minnesota now."

While 55 percent of survey respondents rated Minnesota as having a good business climate compared with other states, they also identified several barriers, including taxes, that must be addressed to strengthen the business environment.