Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 12, 2013

Region's economy looking strong for the coming year

BY GLENN PUIT gpuit@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Business leaders expect to see strong growth in the northern Michigan economy in 2014.

Doug Luciani, president of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, said growth is expected in the tourism, hospitality and agriculture sectors.

“As the national economy gets better, the Michigan economy gets better,” Luciani said. “And, our regional economy will continue to outpace Michigan, but it probably won’t outpace the national economy.”

This morning business leaders from across the region will gather at the chamber’s 2014 Economic Outlook Breakfast at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. The Record-Eagle joined with the chamber to produce a comprehensive report on the critical topics of the economy and job growth.

The publication, 2014 Economic Outlook, is included in today’s newspaper.

The Economic Outlook breakfast will be followed by the chamber’s annual Business Expo, featuring approximately 140 exhibits from area businesses, public institutions, non-profit groups and other organizations.

Several recent economic indicators support the premise that the region’s outlook is strong. Among them:

- Building permits are up significantly. Grand Traverse County saw a 26 percent jump in the number of building permits issued this year over 2012 numbers, according to statistics gathered by the newspaper.

- Tourism numbers for the region continue to improve. Tourism's impact on the Traverse City economy jumped by nearly $300 million in just six years, according to Traverse City Tourism.

- Home sales were up by 11 percent through early fall. Median home prices also rose through most of the year.

Matt McCauley is the director for regional planning and community development for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. He said the northern Michigan area could see as many as 2000 additional jobs through 2015.

“One of the things that defines our region and helps move us forward is we have a strong entrepreneurial culture,” McCauley said.

McCauley said increasing business access to capital and reducing regulations will help foster a healthier business climate.

“Providing more access to capital and less regulation for individual business owners will help, whether it be start ups or for those who want to grow their business,” McCauley said.

Jeffrey Guilfoyle, president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, also said he expects to see positive job growth in the state in 2014.

“We should have another year of growth after 10 years of economic decline,” Guilfoyle said, adding “we lost jobs every year from 2001 to 2010, and positive job growth is a huge improvement from that."