Washington (June 28, 2004) -- Optimism about business growth within the mid-market has rebounded "significantly" in the past year, according to the newly released Grant Thornton survey of middle-market business leaders.

Ninety-three percent of respondents said they were optimistic about the growth of their own companies, the highest level since Spring 2002. Of the 305 business owners and senior executives with companies in the $50 million-to-$2 billion range, more than half said they anticipate increases in revenues (88 percent), profitability (73 percent), and employment (52 percent) over the coming year.

To maintain or improve profitability over the past few years, at least 85 percent of respondents reported they have reduced costs; invested in new technology, systems or procedures; and/or improved cash management. Mark Oster, a Grant Thornton advisory services principal, commented, "Reducing costs -- and streamlining processes -- can make every future dollar of revenue more 'profitable.' With increased efficiency, more of each new dollar of revenue drops to the bottom line."

In a tie, a hefty 88 percent of survey respondents identified "customer loyalty" and "core competencies" as strategic cornerstones for fueling their growth plans. Other strategic initiatives include product customization and innovation (63 percent), pursuit of niche markets (57 percent), and establishing partnerships (55 percent). Andre Schnabl, GT's Atlanta office managing partner, observed, "In spite of a modest economic recovery, today's business growth is driven by improvement in market share. Companies are working under the code of, 'My win is your loss.' In this kind of cruel marketplace, midsized businesses must play to their core competencies and have a laser focus on customer loyalty."

-- Richard McCausland

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