UNCW business faculty predicts local economy to grow

Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Tuesday's sixth annual UNCW Economic Outlook Conference drew one of the largest crowds the event had seen in years.

The economy of Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender Counties is expected to grow 4 percent during 2010, according to a forecast developed by UNCW's William "Woody" Hall Jr. and Ravija Badarinathi.

They expect growth during the first half of 2010, followed by a more modest growth over the second half.

"We may be coasting along the bottom for a while before we see growth, but it will return, but it may not return with any sort of noticeable evidence until the middle of 2010," said Hall.

Hall stated that, unlike during the four previous downturns in economic activity dating back to early 1980, the local economy has been hard hit by the current national recession which dates from late 2007.

Hall and Badarinathi point to several signs that local economic activity is stabilizing.   They say the fall in retail sales is slowing, and sales will likely strengthen by the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2009.

Badarinathi and Hall caution that this forecasted growth assumes no major tropical event or terrorism act for the forecast period. Such unpredictable events could have a significant negative impact on the regional economy.

Hall said he has noticed more business owners networking this year by trading ideas on what's working for their business and what's not.

The next economic outlook will be in March 2010.

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