Local News

Experts predict Triangle will lead way out of recession

Posted January 7, 2009 11:55 a.m. EST

— When the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce hosted an economic forecast discussion Wednesday morning, the predictions were largely positive.

Dr. William Atkinson, chairman of the board of directors for the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, predicted the Triangle would be one of the first areas in the state and nation to recover from the recession.

"I think the Triangle economy has an edge over many parts of the world," he said. "It has the strength of great education, community colleges and a young, bright population that is growing in this market."

The event, held at the Progress Energy Center, featured John Silvia, chief economist with Wachovia Bank and an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank.

Silvia cited the higher education and health care industries as engines for the local economy as the population continues to grow.

"Over time, they will spend more money on health care, more money on education and that will benefit this region."

Population growth has slowed, but is still stronger in North Carolina than most other parts of the country.

Atkinson acknowledged the tough economic times, but his forecast was upbeat.

"2008 was tough, especially at the end of the year," he said. "Everyone's ready to dig in and find positive solutions and turn it around fairly quickly."

At a forum on the statewide economy Monday, Progress Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Johnson told attendees, "I'm pretty sure no one here is nostalgic about 2008."

Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said at that event that economic improvement could take most of the year.

"It's going to take some time to build up some momentum," Regalia said, predicting job losses would continue to mount into 2010.