The mail survey, conducted by Star Tribune researchers in February and March, was sent to 121 publicly held, Minnesota-based companies. Fifty-one companies answered, for a response rate of 42 percent. Not all companies responded to all questions. Overall, the views appear to represent the different industries in the state but might underrepresent the views of larger companies.

1. Please rate each of the following public policy issues according to how important it is to your business.

Scale: 3=Very important; 2=Important; 1=Somewhat important; 0=Not at all important.

Economic recession 2.64

Hiring / retaining workers 2.55

Health care benefits 2.36

Federal tax rates 2.25

State tax rates 2.07

Education 2.02

Wage rates 2.00

Transportation 1.41

2. What are your company's plans for capital spending in the next 12 months?

Increase capital spending 51%

No significant changes 37%

Decrease capital spending 12%

3. What are your company's hiring plans for the next 12 months?

Increase headcount 57%

Keep staffing levels about same 39%

Decrease headcount 4%

4. Does the cost of health care influence your decision to add employees?

Some influence 59%

Little or no influence 35%

Significant influence 6%

5. What's the single most important thing that federal and state government can do to help your company grow and add employees?

Lower taxes 57%

Revisit health care 21%

Increase access to capital 11%

Other 11%

6. Businesses face pressure on many economic and political fronts. Please rank how significant these pressures are on your business.

Scale: 3=Very important; 2=Important; 1=Somewhat important; 0=Not at all important.

The U.S. economy 2.68

Increased regulatory enforcement 2.54

Health care 2.02

Global competition 1.98

Energy costs 1.93

The Minnesota economy 1.61

Housing slump 1.54

Privacy regulations 1.37

Terrorism 1.02

Climate change 0.85

7. In the coming year what is the sales outlook for your company?

Better than last year 83%

About the same as last year 17%

Worse than last year 0%


8. The credit crisis that began in 2008 spurred federal bailouts and spread uncertainty in global credit markets. Compared with a year ago (2011), does your business or industry have more or less access to capital?

About the same 76%

More access 22%

Less access 2%

9. The second half of 2011 was marked by volatile markets and political uncertainty. In response, did your company ...

Increase spending and/or hiring 50%

Put hiring and spending on hold 28%

Decrease spending and/or hiring 22%

10. New types of health coverage, including high-deductible plans, have spread in recent years. Do you agree or disagree that these new plans are helping to reduce health care costs?

Agree 70%

Disagree 30%

11. In the next 12 months, does your company plan to grow more from organic growth or through acquisitions?

Grow internally 64%

Internal and acquisition growth 32%

Grow by acquisition 4%