Nearly three quarters of the more than 700 Pacific Northwest construction and commercial real estate industry leaders polled say they are confident about future businesses prospects based on the strength of their individual companies, the industry and the regional economy, according to survey released today by law firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.
The leaders polled oversee construction and commercial real estate businesses in Washington and Oregon. Overall, those surveyed in Washington expressed the strongest confidence in future business prospects, bolstered by the strength of Seattle-area economy.
“The economy is strong and relatively diversified, which should allow the Puget Sound region to fare better in the coming downturn than many other parts of the nation,” says the president of a Washington CRE company.
Despite the general optimism about their companies’ business prospects, more than half of the respondents indicate that they believe a downturn or economic stagnation could be on the horizon as early as next year ― with CRE businesses leaders slightly more pessimistic in their outlook than respondents from construction companies. To guard against the fallout from a potential downturn, businesses participating in the survey said they are already watching their bottom lines closely, including personnel costs, and working to diversify clients and services.
More infrastructure and private-public partnerships will be pursued in the year ahead as part of an effort to diversify, according to half of the survey respondents. In addition, a quarter of the respondents said they plan to pursue fewer amusement, retail space, and hotel and lodging projects in 2020.
“Bellevue and Hillsboro [Oregon] are predicted to be the next major metropolitan areas outside of Seattle and Portland with rich growth opportunities for CRE and construction,” the survey’s findings indicate.
In addition, more than half of the business leaders polled said they plan to expand their full-time workforce in 2020, with about the same percentage indicating that their biggest challenge is finding and recruiting qualified employees.
“At the same time, one-third of businesses report planning to keep their workforce growth flat ― due, in part, to their plan to protect their bottom line in the event of an economic slowdown,” the study states.