Four out of five Cork businesses expect an increase in turnover in the next 12 months, while a third would like support to enter new markets in the wake of Brexit.
Those were some of the findings of Cork Chamber's quarterly economic trends survey, which also found just over half of businesses have vacancies to fill.
Just over a third of these vacancies remaining unfilled for greater than three months since the initial advertisement, Cork Chamber said.
The vacancies are mostly in engineering and surveying, hospitality and finance, the survey found.
When asked how SMEs could be practically supported to overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities from new open markets, 32% of businesses highlighted the potential for dedicated advice and supports, Cork Chamber said.
A further 16% wanted tailored information sessions, with 14% said Government and EU agencies could help navigate existing and future trade deals.
Maire Ní Mhurchú of tourism firm Activity Days Ireland said in the report:
The top three challenges to Cork business are Brexit, managing cashflow, and hanging consumer spending and reduced orders, the report said.
Cork Chamber's international relations director Katherine Fitzpatrick said it was encouraging businesses to increase engagement with EU policy and trade agreements, especially in light of Brexit.
"Internationalisation outside of the UK is key and we are now acutely aware of the benefits to strong and diverse markets," she said.