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Last updated 7:45PM ET
December 11, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Economists High on SW Colorado
(2007-01-05)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: A number of economists are painting rosy pictures for Southwest Colorado during this new year.
KSUT's Victor Locke Reports.

VICTOR: In his annual statewide economic forecast issued last month in Denver, University of Colorado LEEDS School of Business Associate Director Richard Wobbekind predicted continued economic growth in the state this year.
He sees Colorado growing at a rate of about 1.9-percent, faster than the national economy, and among the top ten fastest growing states overall.
Thursday, Wobbekind came to Durango and predicted even better economic growth for Southwest Colorado saying this region has one of the strongest economies overall.
WOBBEKIND: THERE'S STRONG MINERAL INDUSTRY, NATURAL RESOURCES INDUSTRY BACKGROUND. THERE IS THE CONTINUING AGRICULTURE SUPPORT THAT'S BEEN HERE FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. THEN ON TOP OF THAT THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IN GENERAL SEEMS TO BE QUITE STRONG. WE THINK THERE WILL ACTUALLY BE A FAIR AMOUNT OF CAR TOURISM DURING THE SUMMER, SO WE'RE HOPEFUL THAT WILL SUPPORT THE AREA DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS, SO OVERALL, THE KIND OF THE BIG THREE, IF YOU WILL, ARE VERY STRONG.
Wobbekind says Southwest Colordado also continues to benefit from strong housing and health care sectors.
One of the biggest challenges facing Southwest Colorado's economy he says, will be to maintain the quality of service delivery, given growth in the other sectors.
Wobbekind was among five economists presenting their views on the national, state and local economies during the 15th Annual Southwest Business Forum, presented at Fort Lewis College and sponsored by Wells Fargo bank.
His comments on the local economy echo those of regional economists.
Dr. Deborah Walker is Co-Director of the Fort Lewis Office of Economic Analysis and Business Research.
She's high on Southwest Colorado's economy in 2007 saying most indicators they watch are positive.
WALKER: SOME THINGS I WISH WERE GOING UP MORE. THE SKI THING, I THINK, IS GOING TO BE BETTER THIS YEAR THAN IT WAS LAST YEAR, SO THAT'S A GOOD THING. EMPLOYMENT GROWTH IS NOT AS GOOD AS I WOULD LIKE IT TO BE BUT IT'S STILL POSITIVE, COULD BE BETTER.
In a cautionary note, Walker reiterated comments made in the past, that the regions dependence on tourism, oil and gas continues to be a problem.
WALKER: IF WE CAN BE EVEN MORE DIVERSIFIED SO THAT IF TOURISM HAS A PROBLEM, THAT WOULD BE A GOOD THING. OIL AND GAS DOES HELP US NOW, BUT IT WON'T CONTINUE FOREVER, SO WE ALSO HAVE TO THINK ABOUT HOW THAT'S GOING TO CHANGE OVER TIME TO, AND DEAL WITH THAT SITUATION.
But, she says diversifying our economy even more presents problems as well.
WALKER: THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS, WE WANT TO HAVE OUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO, AND MANUFACTURING BRINGS OTHER COSTS, LIKE ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS AND THINGS LIKE THAT WHICH SOME PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO UNDERTAKE, SO THAT'S DIFFICULT.
On the down side statewide, Wobbekind told the approximately 150 people in attendance, the year has begun badly for agriculture, with the front range blizzards of the past couple weeks.
WOBBEKIND: THEY DON'T KNOW HOW MANY DEAD CATTLE THEY'RE GOING TO DIG OUT. THE LAST TIME THIS HAPPENED THEY HAD, THEY LOST ABOUT 30-THOUSAND HEAD AND WE'RE THINKING IT'S GOING TO BE IN THE SAME RANGE THIS TIME BECAUSE THEY HAVE TEN TO FIFTEEN FOOT SNOW DRIFTS AND THEY CAN'T FIND THE CATTLE, THEY'RE OUT THERE LOOKING FOR THEM BUT THEY CAN'T FIND THEM, SO IT'S PROBABLY GOING TO BE A PRETTY NEGATIVE IMPACT, AT LEAST REGIONALLY.
The economists in attendance also generally agreed, it appears the drop in housing values and increase in foreclosures may be nearing an end in Colorado.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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