Small business outlook optimistic in Nevada, survey says

A view of Water Street in downtown Henderson Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.

Four out of five small-business operators think Nevada’s economy is healthy, according to an annual survey by Nevada State Bank.

The statewide survey, performed by Applied Analysis and released last week, showed 81 percent of respondents believe Nevada’s economy is headed in the right direction.

The results were not quite as optimistic as in last year’s survey, but they were still rosy. This is the sixth year the survey has been conducted.

“These are really positive results,” said Terry Shirey, the bank’s president and CEO. “We anticipated a tempering of optimism after the record high in 2018. We compared data from all six surveys and, while the expectations have been exceeded, the respondents have never over-forecast their outlook.”

Nearly 54 percent of small-businesses owners surveyed said they recorded increases in their revenues or sales from January 2018 to January 2019. Close to three of every five respondents believe the state’s business environment has improved during the past year.

The top concerns for small-business owners included “healthcare costs, government regulation and business taxes,” according to the survey.

Other concerns center on hiring and retaining employees, something tied to what could be a problem for the state’s economy moving forward — housing costs, Shirey said.

“We’re starting to see more concern around housing costs,” Shirey said. “I think that’s something to keep an eye on. It’s certainly more of an issue in Northern Nevada, especially in the Reno area, but it’s something we need to watch here in Las Vegas, too.”

As the Las Vegas Valley continues to grow, Shirey said, it will continue to be important to focus on workforce issues.

“One of the top challenges we saw (in the survey) was attracting quality employees,” Shirey said. “We have to really stay focused on workforce development and affordable housing.”

The issue of affordable housing, however, was decidedly more worrisome to small-business operators in Northern Nevada. Nearly half of respondents there said they were “very concerned” about rising housing costs for average Nevadans, while 23 percent of Southern Nevadans agreed.

Just over 70 percent of those surveyed believe the national economy is moving in the right direction, though that represents a decrease of about 11 percentage points from the 2018 survey.

More than 400 small-business owners, operators and executives representing Nevada businesses with annual sales of $250,000 to $10 million were surveyed. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada State Bank serves 20 communities across the state.