Last updated 5:46PM ET
December 13, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Economists Optomistic In 2008 For LaPlata County
(2008-01-14)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: While most of the country is looking at an economic down fall, economists are optimistic about 2008 for Colorado and La Plata County.

KSUT's Sarah Baumgartner reports:

SARAH: The nation is bracing itself for the worst real estate correction since the depression. This along with other economic facts, statistics and predictions were given at the 16th annual Southwest Business Forum held at Fort Lewis College.
Associate and Assistant professors at the college along with Dr. Richard Wobbekind, Executive Director of the Business Research Division at University of Colorado at Boulder, looked at the economics impacts for state and local economies.
Dr. Tino Sonora, assistant professor of Economics at Fort Lewis College says he's concerned with some industries and the ripple effect they may have on the economy.
TINO SONORA: I THINK CONSTRUCTION IS THE BIGGEST. I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE A HANGOVER A LITTLE BIT FROM THE NATIONAL ECONOMY LESS PEOPLE BUYING STUFF IN THIS REGION. SO MY BIGGEST CONCERN I THINK IS THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY AND MAYBE TO A LESSER EXTENT THE TOURISM INDUSTRY AS WELL. AGAIN IF WE DO START HEADING INTO A RECESSION THAN PEOPLE TEND TO PUT OFF THEIR VACATIONS FOR OBVIOUS REASONS THERE'S OTHER THINGS TO PURCHASE AND WITH FUEL PRICES RISING I THINK THOSE ARE GOING TO BE THE TWO BIGGIES IN THIS AREA.
Tom Harrington, Dean of the School of Business Administration at FLC, believes that there is still much to be optimistic about in our area.
TOM HARRINGTON: WE ALSO HAVE AN INTERESTING DIVERSIFICATION COMING THROUGH WITH EMERGING GROWTH COMPANIES. WE NOW HAVE 20 COMPANIES THAT ARE GROWING AT LEAST 15-20% A YEAR. AND THESE ARE COMPANIES THAT GO ALL THROUGH THESE STRENGTH AREAS SUCH AS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY WITH MERCURY PAYMENT SYSTEMS AT 350 EMPLOYEES, 600 NEW JOBS IN THE LAST 4 YEARS WITH THESE EMERGING GROWTH COMPANIES. NONE OF WHICH ARE IN THE TOURISM BUSINESS SO THEY'RE BRINGING A NICE NEW DIVERSIFICATION TO OUR BASE.
Wobbekind says that LaPlata County is strong in comparison with the rest of Colorado.
WOBBEKIND. ALMOST EVERY AREA OF THE STATE IS DOING REALLY WELL THIS COUNTY HAS. SO YOU'RE FORTUNANTLY BENEFITTING FROM ALL OF THE STRONG SECTORS. AND YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE VERY LARGE CONCENTRATIONS IN SOME OF THE WEAK SECTORS LIKE MANUFACTURING. PARTICULARLY DURABLE GOODS MANUFACTURING. SO PART OF THE AREAS OF THE STATE THAT ARE LOSING JOBS, REALLY LAPLATA COUNTY DOESN'T HAVE MUCH ACTIVITY IN THOSE AREAS.
Wobbekind also says that although industries like the housing market are weak, having a diverse economy is what is going to make LaPlata County strong.
WOBBEKIND: BECAUSE YOU ARE ALWAYS GOING TO GET AGRICULTURAL AND ENERGY CYCLES, I MEAN THAT'S A GIVEN. YOU ACTUALLY HAD A SIGNIFICANT TOURISM CYCLE WHEN YOU HAD THE DROUGHT AND THEN YOU HAD THE FIRE AT MESA VERDE YOU HAD A REAL DOWNTURN IN TOURISM. SO THOSE THINGS ARE ALL PRETTY CYCLICAL. SO THE MORE WAYS YOU CAN DIVERSIFY YOUR ECONOMY THE BETTER IN TERMS OF DEALING WITH CYCLES.
Other statistics included in the forum were the median home price change of single-family homes in in-town Durango fell over 20% from 2006-2007 Fort Lewis College is seeing an increase in admissions at after a dip in enrollment the past several years.
Also predicted locally for the inflation outlook of 2008 was that Durango housing rent will most likely increase, as well as an increase in expenses in commodity prices and a decrease in consumer spending.

From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Sarah Baumgartner.

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