NEW ALBANY —
It’s getting better, but it’s still not great.
That was the consistent message on the regional economy at One Southern Indiana’s annual meeting Friday. The event brought 450 business and community leaders together at The Grand in New Albany to discuss, and celebrate, the efforts of the past year and to present economic development chamber’s plan to grow business in the region.
“It’s all about growing the economic pie here in Clark and Floyd counties and across the region,” said One Southern Indiana President Jody Wassmer at the outset of the meeting. “Pro business and pro Southern Indiana is what this organization is all about.”
Gerry Dick, the keynote speaker at Friday’s event and president and managing editor for Grow Indiana Media Ventures, said there is a positive outlook for business growth in Indiana for 2012.
“As we look at 2012 the assessment we get is Indiana is kind of holding its own,” he said. “It’s not ‘happy days are here again’ by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a level of confidence out there in the Indiana economy.”
Dick said the state’s unemployment rate remains high, but steady at 9 percent. He added a positive sign was that the state saw the largest increase to the workforce in 35 years in December, with more than 17,000 jobs being added to the state’s employment figures.
“Perhaps [it’s] a sign that people are feeling somewhat more confident about the economy,” he said.
Dick added that anecdotally business offered an optimistic outlook on the state of the economy.
He offered a business confidence index, which is a survey of various businesses in Indiana, dropped throughout 2011 to a low point of 60 percent in September. But since reaching its low point confidence has risen, ending the year at 64 percent confidence in the state’s economy.
A stronger indicator was when he compared the state’s economy to the national figures. Dick said 76 percent of those surveyed on the Indiana business council felt the state’s economy is headed in the right direction, compared to 25 percent feeling as though the national economy is headed in the right direction.
He added the most positive sector in Indiana, by far, is the technology companies.
With the strength in growth for technology-based businesses, Dick said education has become a concern for business leaders.