A clear majority of business leaders surveyed in real time at an economic outlook breakfast hosted by Santander Bank and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce have an optimistic outlook for the state’s economy in the year ahead.

At the 15th annual Economic Outlook Breakfast, Santander’s Mike Lee, managing director of commercial real estate banking, facilitated a real-time poll of more than 300 attendees. Almost 78 percent of respondents said they thought the Massachusetts economy would improve over the next 12 months, and just over 73 percent said felt similarly about the U.S. economy. About 67 percent said they expected their own businesses to improve over that period, and more than 65 percent said they planned to either somewhat or significantly increase hiring over the next year.

“The survey results show an overall positive view of the economic outlook for 2015,” said Lee. “This survey helps us understand the challenges and strengths of local businesses of all sizes and disciplines throughout the commonwealth.”

On the other hand, when asked about the top challenges facing the state of Massachusetts, respondents named affordable housing (19 percent), deteriorating infrastructure (19 percent) and overall cost of living (22 percent) as the main hurdles. The top business challenges included attracting new customers (23.7 percent), pressure from larger competitors (12.6 percent), retaining existing customers (12 percent) and cost of health insurance and other employee benefits (12 percent).

Following the survey, attendees listened to a panel discussion about regional business issues. The panel included Patrick Hughes, president and CEO, Fallon Community Health Plan; Christopher Anderson, president, Massachusetts High Technology Council, Inc.; Dr. Zorica Pantić, president, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Thomas P. Glynn, Ph.D., CEO, Massport.

Santander Breakfast Attendees Optimistic About Mass. Economy

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 1 min