Tucked away inside a 47-year-old factory building in Lansing, Steve Schoen and his brother Kevin are building a piece of the new Michigan economy.
"We provide broadband internet to people," Kevin Schoen explains.
Best of all, their company, ACD.net, is ready to hire. By Kevin Schoen's estimate, they'll add at least 10 employees in the next year.
"It's hard to hire that many people as we'd like to," he says.
You may not see high tech business like ACD.net as typical of the Michigan economy, but according to numbers from a small business group, its hiring plans are more common than you think.
"The employment data is the best we've seen since early 2000," says Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) CEO Rob Fowler.
That's data from 200 small businesses, spanning from manufacturers to high-tech firms. More than a third of companies surveyed say they plan to add workers in the next year. And SBAM says what smaller firms are doing does matter.
"Over half of the private workforce today works for a small company," Fowler said.
One downside: Optimism about hiking wages isn't as record-setting as the optimism about hiring. And economists caution without higher wages, the economy can't fully turn around.
Still, more employers are thinking about paying employees more than they have been in a couple of years.
The man behind the business survey, Jeff Padden of Public Policy Associates, says the good news does come with another word of caution.
"Small business owners are notoriously optimistic. They consistently expect better sales, better profitability than they experience," Padden says.
But the study has been reasonably accurate in predicting the overall direction of the economy, according to Padden.
An analysis ACD.net can agree with.
"The good thing with our company is the sky's the limit in terms of the future."