Economic forum provides preview of recession pullout

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Here’s a sneak peak of what to expect at the 13th annual Southern Colorado Economic Forum, which is scheduled for 7 a.m. to noon Oct. 30 at the Antlers Hilton, 4 S. Cascade Ave.

Movers, shakers and economists from the region will be part of the panel discussion and townhall meeting.

The keynote speaker will be Eugenio Aleman, Wells Fargo’s senior economist. His presentation will focus on the national and international economic outlook.

Aleman said that all regions of Colorado have performed much better than the rest of the United States, and, consequently, the state will perform better coming out of the recession.

The technology sector is normally faster to decline, but also one of the first to recover.

“Overall, Colorado has a good mix of industries and sectors — technology, energy and the military,” Aleman said. “And the housing market is relatively strong — it didn’t have the issues that plagued other parts of the country.”

Moving toward recovery, the biggest issues will be credit availability and consumption, causing a weaker recovery for the nation and state than is “usual” after a recession, Aleman said.

The main panel discussion “What’s Hot? Updates from the Local Aerospace and Renewable Energy Sectors” will include Mona Newton of the governor’s energy office, and William Hodgkins, director of Field Marketing Integrated Defense Systems for The Boeing Co.

The forum will conclude with a townhall meeting, “Planning Ahead in the Pikes Peak Region.”

Current economic conditions and prospects for the next 12 months will be presented by Tom Zwirlein, SCEF director and professor of finance at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and Fred Crowley, assistant director and senior economist of the SCEF.

Not all jobs are created equal, Crowley said. “We need to reinvent Colorado Springs and cultivate primary employers that pay good wages, create job stability and economic growth, and generate sufficient tax revenue to support themselves.”

Several studies have been conducted during the past 12 to 18 months, such as the Pikes Peak United Way’s Quality of Life Indicators for the Pikes Peak Region, Operation 60ThirtyFive and the Dream City Vision 2020 project.

“We have to take these things seriously,” Crowley said.

Although El Paso County unemployment is 2 percentage points below the national average (7.7 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively), “Our employment mix is not as good as it once was,” Zwirlein said. “We have more reliance on the military — which is a blessing in disguise. We’ll have a prescription for changes that should be taking place in the city. It’s time to marshal the forces together and get moving.”