Business leaders react to 2014 economic outlook

January 9, 2014 

What they say: Business leaders react to 2014 economic outlook

“Today’s forecast was encouraging for the region, including Milledgeville-Baldwin County. I believe the message we heard clearly indicated we must continue to focus on innovative and collaborative approaches to economic and community development creating communities, a region and a state that is attractive to business and industry.

The emphasis on strengthening the workforce development continuum by improving K-12 education, reallocation of funding within the education system and higher/continuing education for skilled labor should continue to be an area of focus for all of our communities in central Georgia and across the state.”

-- April Bragg, president and CEO of the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce

“I thought it was a good presentation, and it was good to hear that the housing market is going to improve. But we do have some challenges as far as job growth. It looks like we will have a good economy in 2014.”

-- Michael Evans, business representative, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Warner Robins

“Obviously, I think it was very optimistic for 2014 (in that we will be) continuing the little growth that we saw in 2013, and we will see stronger growth in 2014. I was glad to hear that the percentage risk of a recession decreased down to 20 percent where it was previously 40 percent. ... It’s concerning that we will be losing more jobs (in the defense industry). But with the other industries that are growing, obviously, it is a positive for the entire central Georgia area with the increases in construction. Housing is a bellwether for the economy, and it seems as though they are moving in a very positive direction.”

-- Michael Chalmers, franchise owner of Spherion Staffing Services, Byron

“Although it didn’t surprise me that the sole negative outlook in the program was federal/defense spending, that will impact defense communities like ours. It re-enforced the need to think differently and continue working towards the diversification of Middle Georgia’s economy.

So essentially for the 21st Partnership, it just reinforced what we already expected, but it was great news to hear there was a positive outlook in other industries.”

-- Chrissy Miner, chief operating officer of the 21st Century Partnership, Warner Robins

“I was very encouraged by what I heard today. Although perhaps not as robust as we would like, I think it was very good news for the Middle Georgia area and the state as far as economic growth.

I also think the business community continues to be concerned with our education rankings, especially as they relate to an available workforce. I thought Dean (Charles) Knapp’s comments in response to a question raised about addressing the deficiencies was ringtone on point.”

-- Terry Smith, regional director of AT&T, Macon

“I thought it was very optimistic versus in years past. As a business person, it was refreshing to hear that. We have kind of seen indications of that in our industry, not only in this area but nationwide, from the construction side. .... We are seeing a positive move in the right direction. It is going to be slow. ... There has been hardly any building going on in this area for the past five years. This last quarter has been the best quarter we’ve had since ’08, and we are expecting a good 2014 and ... that’s pretty much what the economists said also.”

-- Jim Taylor, business development/ marketing manager of Warner Robins Supply Co.

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