Eastern Shore business owners and managers’ outlook on the economy are more optimistic than they were six months ago.
These trends are among the findings of the latest Eastern Shore Business Sentiment Survey conducted through a partnership with Salisbury University’s Business Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON), SU’s Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative (ESRGC), and many of the region’s economic and workforce development professionals.
The June 2023 results represent the fifth report released by BEACON. The first survey in the series was conducted in June 2021, with a follow-up in December 2021, and the most recent report in December 2022.
The survey included more than 50 questions, asking business leaders to weigh in on a range of topics, from general business concerns to conditions in their own industries. Respondents evaluated business conditions locally, regionally, in the state and nationwide for the coming year. They also shared views related to their specific industries and on issues from labor supply to regulations.
Respondents were increasingly optimistic in their expectations of the standard of living in the next five years. Across all areas, 39 percent believe it will remain the same, while 36 percent think it will rise, and 26 percent think it will fall. The number of respondents that said that the standard of living would fall on Maryland’s Eastern Shore over the next five years decreased by 16 points since the December 2022 survey.
Participants had mixed views on the current state of America’s economy, with overall thoughts improving. Participants generally believe the economy is “Stagnating” (36 percent), with 31 percent believing it is “Growing Rapidly/Growing Slowly.” Some 33 percent believe the economy is “In a Recession/Depression,” which is a significant decline from 47 percent six months ago.
A majority of responses came from company leadership, with business owners, presidents, CEOs and managing partners making up 68 percent of the participants. A total of 80 percent were from firms with fewer than 50 employees. Responses came from a wide variety of industries reflecting the economy of the region, with many respondents active in more than one industry.
Counties on the Eastern Shore will continue to conduct the survey every six months, with the data used to identify challenges facing the region, to assist in long-term planning and to guide the development of public policy.
The Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative summarized the findings in infographics that can be found on the Eastern Shore Economic Recovery Project website, but economic developers also have access to an internal dashboard that enables them to mine the data for insight on specific issues.
Designed to gauge the opinions of the region’s business leaders, this survey is one of the tools that has grown out of the Eastern Shore Economic Recovery Project, a venture made possible by grants totaling $507,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Agency.
The Mid-Shore Regional Council and the Tri-County Council of the Lower Eastern Shore are recognized as Economic Development Districts by the EDA.
The data tools used in the project have been recognized with regional and national accolades including the Maryland Economic Development Association’s 2022 Economic Development Program Award, the 2022 International Economic Development Council Silver Award and the 2022 National Association of Development Organizations Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award.
In addition to the regional councils, partners in the project include ESRGC, BEACON, the Lower Shore Workforce Alliance, the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board, and the Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester county economic development offices.
To access Eastern Shore Economic Recovery Project data, visit https://recovery.delmarvaindex.org. The complete Delmarva Index can be found at https://delmarvaindex.org.