Gil Mathew: What can we do together to ensure our economic prosperity?
Special to The Union
I’ve often thought of Labor Day as sort of an alternate New Years, summer is over, school has begun, vacation time is but memory, and there is a sense of a “new beginning” this September began with the Nevada County Economic Resource Council (ERC) hosting their Annual Economic Summit. This was a time to look back at the past year or more and use that information to look forward to what we can expect. This year the powerful and dynamic senior economist, Christopher Thornburg PhD of Beacon Economics LLC was the featured speaker and answered two of the more critical questions for the region during the public summit on Sept. 12. One; is there a recession on the horizon and two; what are some of the impediments to economic prosperity in Nevada County and the surrounding region. Since the ERC is committed to ensuring a thriving, attractive business environment in Nevada County and works toward that end, they sponsor this annual forum to bring light to the positive elements of our economy and take a closer look at what can be done together to ensure our prosperity.
First, Dr. Thornberg put to rest the notion of a near term recession. There was ample information presented to support his conclusion that no recession is in the forecast for the next 24 months. Chief among his reasoning was that before you can talk about the “when,” you have to talk about the “why” a recession will occur. There needs to be a “cause” and when looking at all of the major indicators, that shock to the system is just not there. Not that problems are not present, but they are only bumps in the road, unlike 2007 when interest rates were rising, housing was expanding too fast and sub-prime mortgages were on the loose. These are big shocks to the system.
Second, Dr. Thornberg focused on some of the economics of Nevada County. Generally, he was optimistic, but recognized, as most of us already realized, that housing continues to be a problem to any major economic growth. This is true not just for Nevada County but state wide. How we deal with this issue will be critical. Also, the imbalance of population demographics, i.e. the senior age population may have a long-term effect on economic growth in Nevada County. The retiring baby boomers are the wealthiest group of citizens in the community, but how long will they remain as they grow older and need greater and greater senior care? And who will replace them and their wealth?
Dr. Thornberg suggests that until we ask the right questions, we will never receive the right answers. In a later conversation with Dr. Thornberg after his public presentation, he states the Nevada County Economic Resource Council is in a key and critical position to help craft the right questions and to assist in achieving the right answers.
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Gil Matthew is Director of Community Outreach for the Nevada County Economic Resource Council.
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