Dane County business opportunities are looking up after a report released Wednesday showed businesses in the county were experiencing bigger sales and profits this year in comparison to last year.

The 2012 First Business Economic Survey showed that profitability increased to 48 percent of businesses compared to the 38 percent from last year. It also said operating costs had gone up from 49 percent in 2009 to almost 60 percent in 2012.

According to Mark Meloy, First Business Bank president and CEO, survey results show that overall, businesses have been performing well. 

“The report, as a whole, is full of good news,” he said. “It’s generally affirming information and conversation that we bankers have had with our prospects that a majority of business has seen an increase in revenues and an increase in profit in 2012 from 2011,” he said.

Meloy added that over the past few years, the retail and service sectors of the survey fared particularly well.

The survey results said retail business was up from last year’s 31.25 percent profitability to 49.06 percent. The service sector increased to 48.97 percent profitability from last year’s reported 37.12 percent.

According to the survey, employment, compared to last year, is beginning to rise for Dane County as well, with a 2.14 percent increase in the wages sector and 0.32 percent decrease in low wages.

Hathaway Dilba, co-founder and director of promotions at Ale Asylum, said their business is just taking off. They moved into a new and larger space at 2102 Pankratz St. about two months ago where they almost tripled their staff for the Tasting Room, she said, which includes a new kitchen manager, kitchen staff and additional servers.

Dilba said Tasting Room profits have increased this year. She credited the success to controlled timing in expansion. Business is gaining, she said.

“[Ale Asylum is] in a place to reach our goal and expand statewide,” she said.

The survey also said Dane County businesses’ sales revenue has gone up by 2.75 percent from 2011, accompanied by a 2.43 percent decrease in a low sales revenue from last year.

Meloy said despite these improvements, many businesses are not yet confident in their ability to increase capital expenditure or raise employment.

“The results are good, but emotions are uncertain [for the future],” he said.

The survey reports a 2.77 percent decrease in High Capital Expenditure and 4.59 percent decrease in Capital Expenditure compared to last year.

First Business Bank collaborated with A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research at the University of Wisconsin to conduct the survey.

The survey has been done for  the last 10 years, Meloy said, and this year they sent surveys to over 4,000 varied businesses in Dane County. He said the survey indicates both how a business performed in 2012 and how they expect to perform in 2013.

According to the statement, 323 county businesses responded to the survey and it has a confidence level of 95 percent with an error range of 5 percent.

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