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Business Owners and CEOs say we haven’t hit bottom yet, and many expect things will get worse in over the course of this year. Last month, The Nicolet Bank Business Pulse reported 57% of the CEOs and Business Owners in the NewNorth saying that we haven’t hit bottom in this recession. More CEOs say things will get only slightly worse (44%) compared with those who think things will get much worse (13%) by the end of this year. 39% believe the economy has hit bottom, and believe things will get slightly better by year’s end; 4% think things will get much better. (There were no differences between CEOs leading goods producing vs. service providing organizations, nor between small firms [less than 100 employees] and large firms (100+). CEOs and Business Owners were asked if the current recession is similar to others – that the basic structure of the economy will remain the same after the recession, or one that will lead to fundamental change. CEOs spoke with a clear voice: 74% said this recession is different, and will lead to

fundamental structural change; 10% said the economic structure will remain the same; 16% are not sure. While CEOs generally think we’re getting close to bottoming out, they also believe the recovery will not be a quick one - that it will take several years to get back to where we were prior to the recession. CEOs may see a light at the end of tunnel, but many think it will be a long recovery. When asked what will play the Most Significant Role leading us out of this recession, CEOs said small business (41%) and consumers (27%). A few of the CEOs (13%) think Government will lead us out; 5% say big business; 5% are not sure. Nine percent gave a variety of other responses (e.g. a combination of factors, conservatives regaining power, Adam Smith, etc.). The Business Pulse© asked CEOs to gaze into their crystal balls and share their view in the years ahead. Several scenarios were presented, and CEOs were asked if they felt that event would occur in the next year, in two years, in five years, in ten years, in more than ten years or never.

CEOs See Fundamental Change Ahead

Executive Summary:
End of Q1/09

When do you see the recession ending?
41% say it will end in the next year; 50% say two years. The remaining 9% think it will take five or more years.

When will the Dow return to 14,000?
CEOs don’t see this happening very soon. One percent said in the next year; 12% say in the next two; 47% say 5; 28% say 10; 10% say more than 10 years and 3% say Never.

When will unemployment return to 4%?
Sixty-four percent think it will take five years or more - before it’s back to 4%. (The last time unemployment was at 4% was 2000).

When will the budget balance?
Nearly half say Never and, 33% say more than 10 years. Four percent say in 5 years! The Crystal Ball gazing by the NewNorth CEOs continued on a variety of interesting subjects. We will report the rest of their prognostications in the next issue of The Business News.

When will the value of your home return?
Thirteen percent think they will regain what they lost in the value of their homes in the next two years; 59% say it will take 5 years; 20% say it will take 10 years; 6% say it will take more than ten; 2% say Never.

How the Survey is Conducted
The Nicolet Bank Business Pulse© is a Quarterly Study of CEOs and business leaders in the NewNorth (Brown, Calumet, Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Winnebago Counties in Wisconsin) and Menominee, Michigan. It is designed and implemented by IntellectualMarketing, LLC. This study was conducted between April 27 and May 4, 2009. Participants include: 28% in manufacturing; 25% in services; 19% retail trade; 5% wholesale trade; 6% finance, real estate, insurance; 6% in transportation, communications, utilities; 6% in construction; 7% in other industries. 14% have fewer than 6 employees; 34% have 6-25; 22% have 26-50; 15% 51-100; 8% 101-250; 5% 251-500; 1% 501-1,000; 2% have 1,001 or more. Questions to Dr. David G. Wegge (920) 217-7738;