<p>The Roadshow for Growth by GE Capital and Slate visited Atlanta July 24.&nbsp;</p>

The Roadshow for Growth by GE Capital and Slate visited Atlanta July 24. 


Buoyed by confidence in the U.S. recovery, middle-market firms are becoming more optimistic about the global economy, but their sentiments aren't motivating them into new international markets, according to recent surveys by the National Center for the Middle Market. 

Of more than 1,000 executives polled in the center's second-quarter benchmarking survey, 48 percent were at least somewhat confident in the global economy, more than double the 22 percent that responded positively during the same period in 2012.  

The findings were released July 23 as the center brought a nationwide roadshow to Atlanta highlighting the importance of middle-market firms, which it defines as those with revenues ranging from $10 million to $1 billion.

The boost in global confidence comes in spite of continued woes in Europe, flagging growth in emerging markets and worries about a slowdown in China

In this uncertain global environment, executives were likely feeling more upbeat about the world because their positions at home have improved, said Anil Makhija, academic director at the center, a partnership between Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business and GE Capital.

Asked about the future of the U.S. economy, 63 percent of executives were at least somewhat confident, while 78 percent had the same response about their local economy. 

"That confidence is now showing up in looking beyond their territory," Dr. Makhija said. 

Still, they aren't running out to buy international plane tickets just because they feel a bit better about the world situation. 

In fact, most are content to stay in the United States, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit study the center sponsored in September on the globalization of middle-market firms. 

That survey revealed two distinct types of middle-market firms with divergent attitudes toward the global economy: "domestics" with no sales outside North America and "internationals" with most of their sales overseas. 

Domestics accounted for 55 percent of all respondents. Only 15 percent of the 346 executives surveyed overall represented domestics with plans to become active outside North America in the next three years.

"They say that they don't feel the need to go abroad, and what holds them from going abroad is a lack of knowledge of what the international market offers," Dr. Makhija said. Plus, nearly 80 percent of these firms have no formal process for reviewing international opportunities regularly. 

This is shortsighted, Dr. Makhija said. 

"The international tsunami is coming ashore, and they're going to soon realize that the U.S. economy is not necessarily a safe place," he said. 

The number of international firms in the survey was much smaller - only 16 percent - but they were planning to double down after seeing global bets pay off. 

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