Corporate optimism is growing among Indiana’s chief executive officers, senior executives and business owners. The results of The State of Our Business – A Perspective from Indiana Executivessurvey shows the highest level of confidence since the annual report from the Butler University College of Business, Ice Miller LLP and Inside INdiana Business launched in 2007.

The project partners identified 4,443 CEOs and other executive officers as potential respondents. Of those contacted, 768 responded to a comprehensive online survey designed by the Butler University College of Business.

The project partners addressed several themes to examine in greater detail including: CEO challenges and issues; Indiana’s economic climate; the state’s role in economic development; human resources and workforce issues; Indiana’s education system; and planning, managing and assessing information technology.

“The 2011 survey of Indiana CEOs and executives showed some differences from the 2010 survey,” stated Gerry Dick, president of Grow INdiana Media Ventures LLC and host of Inside INdiana Business. “Compared to neighboring states, Indiana CEOs and executives expressed optimism about the overall business environment and economic incentives for businesses in 2011.”

Indicators that the economy is improving include fewer business leaders intending to pursue outsourcing, but rather planning to add jobs in 2011.

“Once again, Indiana business leaders continue to move forward in a challenging business climate,” noted Phillip Bayt, chief managing partner, Ice Miller. “According to the survey, it appears that major staff reductions may be in the past and a brighter outlook on available funding opportunities may position companies for further growth.”

“This year’s CEO survey found that health care costs and how health care will be funded continues to be a concern that executives feel negatively impacts their businesses and the economy,” said Bill O’Donnell, director of graduate programs, Butler University College of Business. “With five years of data, we can start tracking trends and see the direction CEOs view the state’s economy to be moving and how legislation at the federal level impacts businesses in Indiana.”

Study highlights from 2011 include the following:

  • Corporate reputation continues to be the most important business issue while growing internally is the least important. This may be an artifact of the survey being over-represented by small companies.
  • Health care costs have risen in importance since the introduction of major health care reform legislation.
  • Adding jobs has increased slightly while reducing jobs has decreased significantly.
  • Cost of living is still seen as the strongest advantage that Indiana has over neighboring states.
  • CEOs believe that private and public funds inside Indiana are significantly more available than in 2011. They further believe that the state is better able to encourage business growth than in 2010.
  • Indiana CEOs and executives continue to be concerned, in 2011 much more so, about the availability of non-skilled workers relative to the demand in the state. This year’s survey has a greater number of large companies represented and this opinion may be a result of this representation.
  • Large companies indicated they are more likely to add full-time employees in the coming year.
  • CEOs and executives expressed opinions that technology moves too quickly to keep staff current, that they must outsource most of their IT work and that off-site backups are a necessity.

The project partners will continue to benchmark the results from the 2011 survey and monitor, discuss and analyze the state’s progress. A full summary of the report can be found online at:

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