The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


September 18, 2011

Economic survey a must-do

Businesses, industries urged to aid chamber study

— We urge business and industry leaders throughout our region to give their personal and special attention to the very important Regional Economic Climate Study surveys they’ll be receiving early this week.

It’s the 18th annual study sponsored by the Greater  Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce and its findings will set the tone while predicting the economic prospects for our area in 2012.

“We’ve already asked the businesses whether they wanted to receive the surveys online or in paper form and those should be distributed (beginning Monday),” John McGrath, associate professor at Pitt-Johnstown, said last week.

As in the past, McGrath and fellow associate professor Ron Vickroy will do the really hard part – heading the research, tabulating the data and co-authoring the critical survey report. They will be assisted this year by Mike Soflarsky, a UPJ marketing student.

The report, McGrath said, will be presented at the Economic Summit breakfast-meeting Nov. 10 at the Pasquerilla Conference Center.

“This is an important project as we continue to strive for a better shared future,” McGrath said.


“The objective is to fill a major gap in economic data, since most economic forecasts are available only at the state or federal level – not locally,” McGrath added.

Key information covered in the survey includes:

* Projected changes in revenue looking ahead to 2012.

* Projected changes in profitability in 2012.

* Projected hiring plans for 2012: Who’s hiring and who’s not?

* Optimism ratings of local organizations.

* Major issues facing local organizations.

Special focus this year, according to McGrath, is on energy-related issues, particularly involving incremental revenue and hiring associated with the Marcellus Shale drilling expansion.

Considering the anticipated growth of the drilling industry, that makes a lot of sense.

Last year’s results told us that the local economy remained sluggish, much like the national and state economies, but that there was  reason for guarded optimism.

Obviously, the more respondents to the survey,  the more valid the results and the higher the level of confidence for the predicted outcomes.

That’s why we urge everyone – 100 percent – to participate this year.

In 2010, 24 percent (189) of those surveyed responded, up from 20 percent the year before. That represented 7.3 percent of all businesses in Cambria County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2,592).

It was the best response since 2001, McGrath noted, which pleased the chamber, as well as he and Vickroy.

But we can and must do even better.

Approximately 750 chamber members are being asked to participate. Non-chamber members, too, may get involved, and we urge you to do so.

Last year, 29 percent completed the form online.

The deadline for turning in the questionnaires is Oct. 3.

But don’t put the survey aside; it might get lost.

Take the time to do it this week.

It’s important to everyone in the community, and not just the business and industry sectors.

We thank the respondents in advance, as well as the folks at the Chamber of Commerce and at Pitt-Johnstown.

Be counted

Non-Chamber of Commerce members, too, are urged to obtain a questionnaire and participate in the survey by contacting the chamber at 536-5107 or at:


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