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Small business optimism reaches highest level since 2015

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. A Fed Reserve study found growing optimism among small businesses.

Small business optimism has reached its highest point since 2015, according to a recently released study by the Federal Reserve Bank.

The Small Business Credit Survey found 66 percent of small businesses with fewer than 500 employees nationwide anticipate revenue growth, and 44 percent expect to hire more employees this year.

"The report found that firms’ profitability, revenue growth and employment growth improved, and optimism about future performance reached its highest level in several years. More firms received all of the financing requested, and a significant portion did not apply for credit because they already had sufficient financing," the Federal Reserve of Chicago stated in a press release. "However, despite this success, smaller firms, startups, and those in the leisure and hospitality industry continued to struggle acutely with financing challenges."

About 46 percent of businesses surveyed received the full amount of financing they requested, up from 40 percent in 2016. They were most likely to seek financing from larger banks, but most likely to succeed with community banks, which had an 88 percent approval rate.

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Firms also had to tap personal funds to meet financial challenges, with about 64 percent of small businesses reporting experience financial challenges at some point over the past year.

About 6 percent of Indiana small businesses and 5 percent of Illinois firms attained more than $10 million in revenue last year, as compared to 4 percent nationally. About 28 percent of the small businesses in the Chicago Fed's Seventh District, which encompasses Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, said they were growing, compared to 29 percent nationally.

An estimated 29 percent of the Upper Midwestern small businesses were less than five years old, as compared to 34 percent nationally.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.