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A survey of Houston businesses found eight out of ten midsized firms will use the additional revenues they expect to receive from their reduced federal taxes to reduce outstanding debts and increase investments.

The survey, conducted by New York investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co., assessed business leaders’ outlooks on the tax reform package signed into law Dec. 22, 2017. The measure cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, as well as cutting taxes on individual incomes.

Two out of three Houston companies surveyed said they would increase hiring and wages with their tax savings, while nearly nine out of ten said they expected to see increases in overall revenue.

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The survey also asked business owners about the biggest challenges they face in the upcoming year. The leading challenges Houston business owners will contend with include increasing sales revenue (66 percent), managing labor costs (44 percent) and finding adequate labor (43 percent).

More than half of the respondents (52 percent) said the toughest jobs to fill were those in the techincal and trade fields. A third of the respondents said their most challenging hires were in sales and highly-educated professional positions.

According to the survey, another major concern facing Houston firms involves environmental regulations. Nearly a third of Houston-based firms expressed concerns about environmental regulations (compared to 20 percent nationwide), with more than 20 percent responding they were “extremely or very concerned” (compared to 12 percent nationwide).

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“This trending positivity is confirmation that something real is happening in the economy,” said Jim Glassman, Head Economist of Commercial Banking for JPMorgan Chase. “Business optimism translates to business activity, which is why we’re seeing increased expectations across the board. For businesses that can hire and retain talent in today’s tight labor market, there are growth opportunities to capitalize on.”

Survey shows Houston businesses optimistic about federal taxes, but one burden still weighs heavily Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images