Business leaders generally feel optimistic about the economy going forward in 2018 but are nervous about finding skilled workers as baby boomers retire and the labor force continues to tighten.

That’s according to the JPMorgan Chase & Co annual “Business Leaders Outlook” survey Jim Glassman, the company’s head economist for commercial banking discussed in Waco last week. He said about 1,700 executives were polled in January.

Sixty-nine percent of executives representing midsize businesses are optimistic about the global economy, the most since the survey started eight years ago; 89 percent are optimistic about the national economy, a jump of 9 percentage points from last year; and 75 percent are optimistic about their local economy, a jump of 7 points.

Asked about savings from a new corporate tax cut, 44 percent said they plan to pay down debt, 43 percent said they plan capital investments; 33 percent said they plan to increase wages, 24 percent plan to pay shareholder dividends, 22 percent plan to hire more workers, 18 percent plan to pursue mergers and acquisitions, and 3 percent plan to repurchase shares.

Sixty-three percent listed revenue or sales growth as a challenge, 54 percent listed limited supply of talent and half listed managing labor costs.

Sixty-four percent said they plan to add full-time personnel, 24 percent said they plan to add part-time personnel, and 76 percent said they plan to increase compensation.

“With the sense of excitement we’re hearing from businesses, it’s no surprise executives are focused on growth,” Glassman said in a statement.

Dwyer buy

The Dwyer Group, based in Waco, continues to grow its portfolio of companies. Dwyer announced last week it bought Property Management Business Solutions, a company based in Salt Lake City that does business under the name Real Property Management.

The property management company was founded in 2005 and has more than 300 offices in 46 states and Canada that manage assets worth more than $13 billion, according to a press release from the Dwyer Group. It franchises property management businesses for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, multiplexes and small apartment buildings.

The Dwyer Group has bought 11 companies in the past three years and now has 20 consumer brands, including Mr. Rooter, Mr. Electric, Mr. Appliance, Rainbow International Restoration, Grounds Guys, and Glass Doctor.

Building permit roundup

Several building permits of note were issued by local communities the past couple of weeks, according to the local Associated General Contractors of America office’s newsletter.

  • Emerald Waco Investments received permits to clear land at 2408 and 2424 Marketplace Drive, near the Central Texas Marketplace shopping center, for a Residence Inn by Marriott and a Tru by Hilton. No cost estimates appeared on the permits
  • Meadowbrook Baptist Church, 1207 N. Old Robinson Road, received a permit for a church addition with an estimated value of $3.5 million
  • The Buckle store in Richland Mall received a permit for renovations with an estimated value of $275,000.

Cinematic financial lessons

Kiplinger, a business magazine targeting corporate executives, published an interesting article ahead of Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards ceremony.

The story lists Oscar winners or nominees that each offer “a financial lesson of a sort.”

The list includes “The Big Short,” nominated for best picture in 2016, whose lesson, in a nutshell, was “all bubbles eventually burst.”

Others on the list are “The Wolf of Wall Street,” nominated for Best Picture in 2014; “Moneyball,” nominated for Best Picture in 2012; “The Post,” nominated for Best Picture this year; “Up,” winner for Best Animated Feature in 2010; “The Social Network,” nominated for Best Picture in 2011; “Michael Clayton,” nominated for Best Picture in 2008; and “Out of Africa,” nominated for Best Picture in 1986.

These films contain nuggets of wisdom that range from “don’t share ideas, act” to “never abandon downtown real estate,” and “hot stock tips from someone you don’t know are not so hot,” according to Kiplinger.

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