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Research08.20.14

Businesses Don’t Know What the JOBS Act Is

New research indicates that only 1/3 of execs at smaller mid-market businesses were familiar with the JOBS Act, parts of which are designed to help them grow.

Here’s a sobering statistic: only one-third of executives at smaller middle-market companies report that they’re familiar with the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, despite the fact that the two year-old legislation was designed to help their organizations grow.

That data comes from new research commissioned by CohnReznick LLP, an accounting, tax, and advisory firm specializing in middle-market companies. The JOBS Act requires the SEC to write rules and issue studies on capital formation, disclosure, and registration requirements. Put simply, the act is supposed to ease access to funding, that all-important ingredient for growth – and something midmarket executives agree made an impact on the economy and was a driver of the surge of IPOs in the U.S. this year.

According to CohnReznick’s findings executives at midmarket companies across the country are poised to do what it takes to grow their organizations and create jobs. Nearly one-fifth (20%) of middle-market companies will likely engage in a liquidity or capital formation event over the next six months, the study found. For perspective, the National Center for the Middle Market says there are almost 200,000 mid-sized businesses across industry segments and geographies, making the potential pool of transactions quite large.

CohnReznick’s survey indicates that these companies are optimistic that they’ll be able to secure capital from a variety of sources from banks to private equity firms, VCs to crowdfunding, for these initiatives, and expect to complete them by the end of 2014.

Though it might be disruptive to think of established companies seeking funding from the crowd, the study found that less than one-third (28%) of executives were somewhat or very comfortable with tapping the crowd as a legitimate way to raise money, even though provisions in the JOBS Act allow for crowdfunding as a potential source. Only two percent of midmarket execs said they plan to investigate the crowdfunding provisions.

Initial public offerings have been touted as another vehicle to raise money for growth. Although the U.S Department of Treasury assembled an IPO task force to encourage emerging businesses to access capital in this way, the U.S. is expected to complete 280 corporate IPOs by year-end, a number that CohnReznick says is only one-third of the total number that might have come to bear based on historical comparisons. This “IPO Gap” is expected to cost the U.S. almost two million potential jobs over the next five years, the company said in another report, “Perspectives on Middle Market Equity Capital,” published in July.

Regardless of the source of the capital, the biggest spend is expected to be on hiring. Eighty-eight percent of midmarket executives said they planned to invest in their workforce by boosting recruitment. “Middle-market businesses are the most important growth engine in the U.S. economy and a critical component to job creation,” Dom Esposito, CohnReznick partner and leader of CohnReznick’s National Liquidity and Capital Formation Advisory Group, said in a statement.

However, another CohnReznick partner, Cindy McLoughlin, remains sanguine about the influence the JOBS Act can really have unless midmarket executives start leveraging its benefits. According to McLoughlin it might be time for a JOBS Act II. “Clearly, the SEC and members of the capital markets ecosystem must do a better job educating smaller company executives on the benefits of the JOBS Act, provide definitive guidance on equity crowdfunding, and formalize the Reg A+ provisions,” she said in a statement.

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