Every year the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce brings together experts to discuss the economic forecast. Though dysfunction in D.C. has contributed to stalling growth, Naperville has reason to be optimistic after a year of improvement, and hopes to continue their comeback in 2014.
This year’s economic forecast held at Hotel Arista was tinged by a little bit of pessimism, even though the economy has been improving at a steady pace.
A group of economic leaders lead by finance expert, Terry Savage, agreed the growth will continue, but the problems in D.C. have stalled the potential for more.
“We have seen the end of the recession. We should be doing great. Unemployment should be falling, GDP should be rising rapidly, business profits should be soaring, and they’re obviously not,” said J.D. Foster, Deputy Chief Economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Four years after the recession and we are still muddying along, consistently, steadily almost stuck at a low growth rate.”
While the nation’s economy is slowly regaining its strength, Naperville is seeing record growth in some areas.
“Back during the recession years the city saw a fall off of about ten percent in revenues linked to the economy,” said Karen DeAngelis, Finance Director for the City of Naperville. “Retail sales tax came back in fiscal year 12, income taxes didn’t start until last year, but this year we’re seeing recovery across all those revenue streams. Retail sales tax should end up well above where it was last year. In fact we’re expecting it to be a new record high for the city.”
Housing numbers also took a hit during the economic downturn. Although housing prices haven’t grown substantially there’s still positive news.
“We’re seeing a huge increase in the number of houses sold. So the last five months over the summer we saw the highest home sales volumes since 2007 before the recession,” said DeAngelis.
But there’s room for improvement. The panelists highlighted the unemployment rate, which in Naperville sits at 8.1 percent. Chamber President and CEO, Mike Evans thinks businesses can play a bigger role in speeding up the recovery.
“If we’re not willing to grow our business, expand, bring on new people, and make development happen then we’re never going to see the economy continue to grow,” said Evans. “So have some faith in the markets and take some calculated risks.”
Local leaders sitting in the audience were advised that they can’t depend on Washington, but have to keep moving forward on their own to create a prosperous future.
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