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Chicago Lags Behind Small-Business Hiring Trend

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Business is booming at Teresa Ging's Sugar Bliss cupcake shop. (CBS)

Business is booming at Teresa Ging’s Sugar Bliss cupcake shop. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Nearly one out of every four small businesses plan to hire in the next six months, a new survey says. But that’s not necessarily the case here in Chicago.

Teresa Ging’s cupcake business is cooking.

“Since I’ve opened, every month has been better than the next month,” she told CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov.

That’s no small feat, considering Ging opened her Sugar Bliss storefront in the Loop in January 2009, right after the U.S. economy collapsed. And the icing on the cupcake? She expects the business to grow even more this year.

“When we started we had seven employees. Right now we have 13, and we’re probably going to add two more people in the next six months,” Ging said.

One new survey suggests Ging is among a group of small business owners who expect to hire more workers this year. But the same survey shows that while 24 percent nationwide expect to add jobs, only 15 percent in Chicago share the same optimism.

“There are a number of different factors that make the Chicago market unique for small business owners and entrepreneurs,” says Rod Shrader, a professor of entrepreneurship at University of Illinois at Chicago. “One is the fact that there is a bit of economic uncertainty as well as political uncertainty.”

The uncertainty includes questions about a new mayor’s policies and concerns over higher taxes in Illinois. 

“The small business owners that I’ve been talking to for the last couple of years have all said that they are in classic wait-and-see mode,” said Raman Chadha, executive director of the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul University. “They are also, by the way, looking for other means to grow their business without adding staff.”

Still, experts say, some job additions are better than none at all. Ging’s happy she’s part of it.

But there may be a downside to the upside. That same PNC survey shows more small business owners expect to raise prices this year, too, to keep their profit margins intact.

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