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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

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Nearly three-quarters of small business owners say they expect a "good" year in 2013.
Nearly three-quarters of small business owners say they expect a "good" year in 2013.

Small business execs weigh in on Obamacare

Regardless of the impact of the Affordable Care Act, the members of the board of directors of the Council of Small Business Executives (COSBE) are remarkably bullish about their prospects for 2013.

According to a new BizTimes survey, 74.1 percent of the respondents say 2013 will be a "good" year for their company. Only 11.1 percent are forecasting a "bad" year.

Meanwhile, 88.9 percent of the executives are forecasting growth in their company's revenues in 2013. Of those expecting revenue growth, nearly 15 percent are expecting growth of more than 20 percent.

Fifty percent of the respondents plan to add to their workforce this year, while 46.2 percent will maintain the status quo for staffing and only 3.8 percent plan to cut staff.

Some other interesting results in the survey included:

  • 55.6 percent plan to hire temporary help in 2013.
  • 51.9 percent plan to invest in significant new technology or equipment.
  • 66.7 percent have a social media strategy.
  • 59.3 percent have a leadership succession plan or exit strategy.

Twenty-seven of the 28 members of the COSBE board responded to the survey.

The COSBE is administered by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) and includes small business executives from a wide range of industries.

Many of the COSBE board members are not certain about how Obamacare will affect their companies or how their firms will respond.

"We are under 50 employees. However, that does not necessarily mean we will not have an issue based upon the formula utilized to determine your FTE (full-time equivalent) count, so at this time we are going to continue to offer benefits to our employees as usual," said Dale Boehm, president and chief executive officer at Caspian Technologies in Waukesha.

"It's very hard to tell how Obamacare will impact our company. We're listening closely. We have strong benefits so all our employees are offered a comprehensive suite of health care benefits. What we worry about is the increased cost of …

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Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated $50 billion in economic damages, including about $10 billion to $20 billion of insured losses.
Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated $50 billion in economic damages, including about $10 billion to $20 billion of insured losses.

Report foretold of Sandy's destruction

A September research report by Ceres, a Boston-based business sustainability advocacy organization, was eerily prescient.

Ceres published the white paper titled, "Stormy Future for U.S. Property/Casualty Insurers: The Growing Costs and Risks of Extreme Weather Events."

The Ceres report examined how extreme weather trends may be a harbinger of significant challenges ahead for a sector in which many companies are already confronting profitability and growth challenges. The analysis was based on a review of U.S. property and casualty insurance industry financial results as reported by A. M. Best Company in early 2012.

"Extreme weather is hitting the United States with a vengeance and it poses a growing threat to the insurance industry and vast segments of society that rely on insurance for peace of mind and financial security. This summer's devastating drought and record-high temperatures are only the latest reminders of the far-reaching impacts that climate change and extreme weather events pose to U.S. property and casualty insurers still reeling
from last year's $32 billion of insured losses from such events," Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler wrote in the first sentence of the foreword of the report.

A month later, superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast, causing an estimated $50 billion in economic damages, including about $10 billion to $20 billion of insured losses, according to Eqecat Inc., a provider of catastrophic risk models for the insurance industry.

Sandy's fury and other rising incidents of horrific weather-related carnage should be of concern to all businesses because of the implications on the affordability and practicality of property and casualty insurance.

In other words, we're all going to absorb those losses, even if we here in Wisconsin were not directly in Sandy's path.

"As the Washington Insurance Commissioner, I am concerned because increasing weather-related losses pose threats to the industry's financial stability, whi…

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