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Business Leaders, Americans Align Around New Strategies To Offset Risk 

Findings of a new Milken Institute-Harris Poll reveal the struggles leaders face as they navigate through economic instability, tech disruptions, and societal shifts. 

U.S. business leaders and Americans alike are confronting significant geo-economic challenges, according to a new Milken Institute-Harris Poll report, “Building A Resilient America: The New Consensus for Action.” The findings reveal the struggles leaders face as they navigate through economic instability, tech disruptions, and societal shifts. These challenges come with the task of marrying immediate pressures with long-term strategic ambitions with concerns about America’s global position, prompting 91% of business leaders to advocate for a concerted effort to bolster U.S. competitiveness in the global market.

economic instability
(Credit: Adobe Stock / Andrey Popov)

The research also uncovers a widespread desire for optimism and unity across the U.S., cutting through political divides with Americans calling for long-term leaders and forward-thinking approaches. Additionally, business leaders across various sectors share positive outlooks, believing that their businesses are strong, and that American competitiveness can be fortified through local investment, cross-sector cooperation, and a commitment to sustainable practices.

“U.S. business leaders are optimistic about business strength, but for many Americans, the economic recovery is a reality yet to be experienced at home,” said Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema. “What everyone can agree on is the importance of building a resilient, crisis-prepared society, underscoring a collective commitment to societal progress.”

The Listening Project: Key Findings

The new report is part of The Milken Institute-Harris Poll Listening Project. Now in its 5th year, the project surveys socio-economic, institutional, and political barriers to evaluate key global and national challenges. This year’s research is focused on the U.S. and U.S. economy with the poll surveying 500 U.S. business leaders and 4,000 American adults 18+.

Key findings include:

  • Business Optimism vs. Consumer Caution: A Tale of Two Perspectives on the Economy: While business leaders show confidence in the future, consumer sentiment lags. Most business leaders believe the U.S. economy (81%), their respective industries (81%), and their own companies (81%) are strong. In contrast, only (40%) of Americans concur that the economy is strong. And (72%) of Americans agree that “economists may say things are getting better, but we’re not feeling it where I live.”
  • The Resilience Imperative: America’s Unified Quest for Endurance: Cultivating resilience across society is seen as crucial for managing disruptions and shaping the future. An overwhelming (89%) of business leaders concur that “it is important that America is able to create resilient policies and solutions to navigate disruptions.” Likewise, (86%) of Americans say, “I want a more resilient America that leads the word in its capacity to navigate and handle crises.” Nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe securing America’s global leadership position in the next four years will tangibly improve their communities (79%), their job security (78%), their life overall (78%), as well as the U.S. overall (78%).
  • Consensus for Place-Based Innovation to Restore Trust and Advance Progress: There’s a shared conviction amongst business leaders that place-based innovation can rebuild institutional trust (91%), create new manufacturing systems (90%), and rebuild political trust (88%). Americans echo this sentiment, agreeing that “business leaders should work more closely with government leaders to solve our social challenges” (76%). And what’s interesting is perhaps this innovation is already happening, as (71%) of Americans say, “innovation is bubbling ​ up in local communities, but national media is missing this story.”

“These findings validate what we see as an emerging, consensus for solving our biggest challenges through cross-sectoral and bottom-up solutions,” said Dan Carol, who leads Milken Institute’s climate finance practice and geo-economics programs. “Working with business leaders, governments, and frontline community leaders in this way will help us bolster U.S. competitiveness and local economic resilience.”

Read more about business resilience and continuity at Continuity Insights.

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