Chicago small businesses express optimism for 2011

February 25, 2011

By Ashley Gross

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A majority of small business owners in Chicago say they expect business this year to be as good or better than last year. A survey by Citibank shows more optimism among small business owners in Chicago than in the country as a whole.

But business owners in Chicago are worried about rising costs for things like health care and raw materials. So a large majority of them have no plans to hire more people this year.

Raj Seshadri is the head of small business banking for Citibank.

"What they’re not ready to do is grow employment," Seshadri said. "So their plans for hiring are relatively flat."

Two-thirds of Chicago small business owners say they don’t plan to raise prices this year. Seshadri said that’s better than the national average. To stay profitable as costs rise, she said business owners plan to work more hours themselves.