The Economy: What's Happening Locally

by Jim McConoughey, Heartland Partnership

It is no secret that we are dealing with a challenging economic situation right now. Published reports say that four out of 10 Americans think we are in a “serious” recession, and that number has risen in just the past few weeks. That is why The Heartland Partnership has joined forces with economists from Bradley University and leaders from multiple industries throughout the region to get the full economic story locally. We are also working with the local media to share our information. While central Illinoisans do care how the rest of the world is doing, it is vitally important to have the facts of what’s happening right here at home.

There are headlines every day like “Jobs Numbers Fall Off Table In November,” “Crisis Likely to Worsen Before it Improves” and “Retail Sales Notch Biggest Drop in 39 Years.” With news like that, it’s difficult to find anything positive. If you only look at the national and global scope of the economic situation, it doesn’t always paint the proper picture for the Heartland. Yes, national and state unemployment numbers are rising, but they are not rising as rapidly here in Illinois. Yes, retail sales nationally are down, but they’re not off by as much in central Illinois.

There is even more important news buried in all of this. Economists say that the average recession over the past 60+ years has lasted about a year or a little more—this recession technically started in December 2007, so the nation may be closer to recovery than we realize. The stock market has been testing bottom since early December, and it historically rebounds six to nine months before the economy does. And consumer confidence is rising—not much, but rising. While it was at an all-time low in October, it has been rising slightly since then.

The Heartland Partnership is working hard to keep this region up to date on what’s happening and how it affects us locally.

Another way to find out what’s happening locally is to join us for the “State of the City” event on January 28th at the Pere Marquette. It is a chance for you to get a behind-the-scenes look at the accomplishments of 2008 and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2009. Mayor Jim Ardis will speak about the status of the challenges he issued to the business community last year and what he hopes to see this year. You can find more information at peoriachamber.org. iBi

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