The majority of small and medium businesses remain optimistic about the economy and feel that the pessimistic reporting by the media and government has contributed to declining sales, according to a Business Enterprise Centre (BEC) survey. The latest findings from the St George and Sutherland Shire BEC online survey, The SME Business Perspective on the Current Economy, has shown that 60 percent of local businesses are positive about the future of their business, with 75 percent citing potential opportunities for business growth over the next year. The survey canvassed the opinions of 374 businesses across the St George, Sutherland Shire and surrounding regions and found that the region is among the most positive in Australia, with recent data from the Sensis Business Index revealing that just 45 percent of SMEs across the country remain confident about future business prospects. However, the region is not immune from the effects of the global economic downturn, with three quarters of local businesses feeling some negative impacts of the crisis. Of those businesses, lower revenue and sales (81 percent), cash flow problems (45 percent) and ceasing purchasing equipment or inventory (42 percent) were cited as the major concerns. The majority of businesses cited they would like to see more positive reporting of the crisis from the media, believing that the focus is too much on the negative and many attributed their declining sales directly to negative coverage on the economy. "We know that business want both the media and governments to set a more positive agenda. We all need to be smart about how we interpret and respond to changing conditions and rely on the facts and not the myths," said Maria Cook, executive officer for BEC - St George and Sutherland Shire. The report also found that businesses would like to see more local support services, which include networking events (65 percent), business introductions (59 percent) and Government support for small business (40 percent).