Business analysts predict economic growth in 2011

February 8, 2011

The nation's economy is finally growing at a sustainable rate and will begin to slowly add jobs this year, an Indiana State University economist said Tuesday.

Robert Guell, professor of economics, was among several speakers at the Groundhog Day Economic Forecast on campus. The event, which was hosted by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and co-sponsored by Terre Haute Savings Bank and the Scott College of Business at ISU, was catered to business professionals. Several speakers, including Guell, predicted that the economy would continue to grow as the country trudges out of the remains of the Great Recession.

"I think this would be the most optimistic that I have been," said Guell, who has been a panelist at the economic forecast events for more than a decade.

Gerry Dick, an ISU graduate and president and managing editor of Grow Indiana Media Ventures, also hosts Inside INdiana Business. He told the audience that economic development deals "are beginning to slowly get done." He highlighted examples of business investments, which included projects that added jobs, by companies across the state.

"I think the bottom line is we're beginning to see improvement," he told the crowd. "'Happy days are here again,' not by a long shot. There is still concern out there, but I think the mood of folks around the state has definitely improved."

He cited results of an Indiana Business Council survey, which indicated that 88 percent of those surveyed believe their companies are headed in the right direction. More than 70 percent of respondents believe there will be an increase in demand for their companies' products and services, but only about 40 percent of respondents believe their company will increase hiring in the year ahead.

Guell explained that optimism needs to be tempered because the economic recovery took much longer than in any post-World War II recession and the unemployment rate has remained above 9 percent for longer than any time since the Great Depression.

He also expects the unemployment rate to increase through the year as people currently unemployed and not searching for jobs begin to re-enter the workforce.

Brian Conley, owner and president of Conley Real Estate Appraisals, said that real estate prices in the Wabash Valley and throughout Indiana have leveled off and are increasing. He said during the presentation that Vigo County still has a high number of foreclosures, and that housing sales are still being affected by foreclosures.

The last panelist to speak was Thomas M. Mohr, president and CEO of Applied Extrusion Technologies, which has a production facility in Vigo County. During his presentation, Mohr explained how AET Films emerged from bankruptcy in 2005 to become a company looking to expand its business operations around the world.

He ended his speech by explaining that, during a recent ice storm, workers showed their dedication to the company by bringing extra clothes and food because they wanted to continue running the plant.

"If a small company like AET pulls itself up," Mohr told the crowd, "why can't the country pull itself up and move forward?"

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/2011-Groundhog-Day-economic/020811groundhogday-0656/1181579764_BoAgp-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Robert Guell, professor of economics at Indiana State University, speaks during the Groundhog Day Economic Forecast event.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/2011-Groundhog-Day-economic/020811groundhogday-0572/1181578288_ZakfJ-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Gerry Dick, an ISU graduate and president and managing editor of Grow Indiana Media Ventures, talks to the audience during the Groundhog Day Economic Forecast. He was a panelist during the event.

Media Contact and Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu.