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Updated: January 8, 2024 From the Editor

From the Editor: Business has been good, so why is the outlook so gloomy?

You can forgive Maine business owners and leaders if they’re feeling a bit uneasy about making predictions for the coming year.

Going back to the Mainebiz “outlook” issue in January 2020, there was a lot of optimism. Businesspeople were finally feeling good after a prolonged recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-09. And then — BAM! — the pandemic changed all of that.

In the past three years, we’ve noticed a pronounced lack of confidence about the economy.

The 2023 economy was strong, with some caveats — higher interest rates, escalating costs, lack of affordable housing and a limited labor pool.

Going into 2024, we asked roughly 20 leaders to offer their forecast.

Nearly all offered tempered optimism: The economy is strong, but … There’s demand for real estate, but … My industry is faring well, but …

You get the idea.

In recent polls, we’ve asked readers for their opinion about what’s ahead.

In one poll, 40% of voters said they expect business in 2024 to be about the same as 2023. The other voters were divided, with 37% saying this year will be better than last and 24% saying it will be worse.

In another poll, we asked whether readers plan to invest in their businesses. About a third, 30%, said they plan to invest in technology or related products. One in five voters said they plan to add workers. Six percent plan a physical expansion or new construction. Another 19% plan all three of those investments. But 24% said they plan no investment whatsoever.

One other note: Readers might notice the 30th anniversary logo on the cover. Yes, Mainebiz is reaching a big milestone this year, with events and a special issue planned. More on this to come.

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