New York State Business Climate Study, Nov. 2001

When Alfred University's College of Business conducted its first New York State Business Climate Survey in May 2001, it was to determine how businesses, particularly small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, were responding to what appeared to be uncertain times ahead. As the second quarter was drawing to close, we found that in spite of their somewhat negative perceptions of the national and state business climates, business people as a whole were optimistic about their own companies' futures.

We hoped to continue the survey on a periodic basis, to begin to capture trends for small businesses and to determine if their perceptions of the national and state business climates correlated with their perceptions of their own businesses' future. What we could not predict, however, when we planned our second round of the survey, were the cataclysmic events of September 11, 2001, and the impact they would have on the nation. The second round of surveys came in early November, just before the end of the third quarter. We modified our survey instrument to ask businesses how they perceive the events of September 11 affected their businesses, and how the state could assist them to make a recovery. Harris Interactive¹ was commissioned to do the mail survey.

How this beleaguered segment reacts is important because small and family-owned businesses are a integral part of the state and national economy. According to the 1999 Small Business Profile, they added 420,000 new jobs in New York State between 1994 and 1998. In 1998 alone, they generated $49.2 billion in income. Ninety-seven percent of all New York firms have fewer than 100 employees, and 99 percent have fewer than 500 employees. Firms with 500 or fewer employees accounted for 52.5 percent of the state's employment.


¹ Harris Interactive (Nasdaq: HPOL) is a worldwide market research, polling and consulting firm. It is best known for The Harris Poll and its pioneering use of the Internet to conduct scientifically accurate market research.

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