Collaboration creates business confidence index

Business School teams with DBJ on quarterly survey of local economy

September 11, 2017

Vibrant. Positive. Robust.

These words come to mind after the numbers got crunched in the new CU Denver-Denver Business Journal index that surveys local business confidence. The index debuted this summer and found Denver-area business executives feeling bullish about the metro economy.

An index of 100 would signify a “steady-as-she-goes” posture among area businesses. An overall index number below 100 would indicate pessimism, while a mark above 100 would signal optimism. The debut survey result came in at 137.

‘Robust growth’

CU Denver Professor Cliff Young
Cliff Young, PhD, associate dean of faculty and professor of marketing, launched the index this summer.

“I consider that to be relatively robust growth,” said Cliff Young, Ph.D., professor of marketing and associate dean of faculty at the CU Denver Business School. “It’s generally positive. We’re not trying to predict the economy; we’re trying to report how optimistic business executives are of our economy.”

Young invited businesses on the DBJ’s mailing list to participate in the quarterly survey. More than 125 responded they’d be interested and a significant number of those owners and managers participated in the July survey.

“The index represents a really nice collaboration between the Denver Business Journal and the Business School at CU Denver,” Young said.

The partnership began when DBJ Editor Neil Westergaard and Publisher Pete Casillas approached Vice Chancellor of University Communications Leanna Clark about a possible confidence index collaboration with CU Denver.

Recognized as thought leader

This partnership with major business publication is illustrative of how CU Denver is recognized as a thought leader by key influencers across the state. “This collaboration is just another example of how CU Denver is viewed as a top asset in the city,” Clark said. “Our Business School is renowned for contributing incisive economic information to our community, and we are proud to establish a confidence index partnership with the DBJ. Having our brand alongside the DBJ elevates our stature as a powerful research resource for the city’s business leaders.”

Clark brought the idea to Young at the Business School. He consulted with Madhavan Parthasarathy, Ph.D., professor and director of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, who had previously developed a survey of activity by business purchasing managers.

“I took that survey and made it applicable to business executives in general,” Young said. “Meanwhile, having the DBJ provide the list of companies was great because it simplified searching out companies and the executives who would be willing to participate.”

Categories of study

The survey, which takes executives only a few minutes to complete, asks about the current status of their business as well as the business climate and concerns and overall confidence. The survey is further broken down by major industry classifications.

Respondents’ confidence was high in regard to their own business (170), access to capital (162), business activity and sales (149) and new orders (145). Industries rating highest in confidence included retail trade (168), manufacturing (156), professional services (127), finance and insurance (120) and construction (119).

Weighing more heavily on the minds of executives were concerns about the availability of labor (70), confidence in the U.S. economy (102) and cyber security threats (104).

The survey, which will go out again at the end of September, includes an area for business owners and managers to make specific comments. In the July query, an executive said, “Denver is experiencing the most vibrant economy I have witnessed in over 40 years of practicing law. Also, the business environment is very diverse in comparison with the past in Denver. I am concerned about the cost of doing business in Denver, especially in the central business district.”

Another respondent said, “Costs are rising quickly, but it’s still an amazing place to start/grow a business.”

Look for the results of the next CU Denver-DBJ business confidence index to be posted in early October.