It appears Rhode Island is slowly waking from its version of the long, national economic nightmare.
At least that is a conclusion supported by a survey taken at the yearly economic-outlook breakfast put on by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and Sovereign Bank last week.
The more than 400 business leaders in attendance were quite optimistic about the U.S. economy in the coming year, with nearly two-thirds of those responding by handheld devices at the event saying that it would get much or somewhat better over the next year.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Rhode Island without a little bit of the hangdog attitude. In contrast to their view of the national economy, only one-quarter of the local executives felt that the state’s economy would improve over the next year, with 22 percent feeling it would be worse.
The respondents had a different outlook on matters closer to home, as 62 percent expected their own business to be in “better shape” over the next 12 months. In addition, 45 percent expected to increase hiring in the period (only 9 percent expected a decline in hiring), with 40 percent looking for an increase in business spending in 2012 (17 percent expected a decline in spending).
What does this mean? Forget glass half-empty or half-full discussions. It is clear that Rhode Island’s business leaders expect business to pick up in the coming year. And if individual businesses expect to improve, it only stands to reason that the entire economy will improve.
With unemployment still hovering at 11 percent, we’re still not past all the economic challenges. But slowly, Rhode Island is moving forward. •