Vectra’s economic forum: Economy still sending mixed signals

There are some bright spots in the local economy.

That’s the word from Tom Zwirlein, director of the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, at today’s annual Vectra Bank Economic Forum at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

Zwirlein told the crowd of more than 200 people that sales tax, on a nominal basis, was up 6 percent last year in the city of Colorado Springs.

Not only that, but the local military presence helped increase per capita personal income in the region.

Housing is very affordable right now, and although foreclosures are still high in El Paso County, they were lower last year than in 2009.

He expects a modest increase in single family housing permits this year – to 1,900, up from 1,600 last year. Vacancy rates in multi-family housing have continued to drop, making the multi-family market “tight,” which could mean more new home construction.

Zwirlein’s projections for 2011 in the county include a decline in unemployment, from 8.4 percent to 7.9 percent; a 2.2 percent increase in personal income; population growth of 1.5 percent; and growth of wages and salaries at 4.3 percent.

The economic forum also covered investing for individuals. George Feiger, CEO of Contango Capital Advisors, told the crowd that “buy-and-hold” is a bad idea for individuals.

“There’s no asset whatsoever that is so good you can buy and hold it,” Feiger said.

Instead, investors need to be active, and take into account the volatility of emerging markets. Investors should also have two portfolios: One that is short-term, or three years, that’s highly liquid and low-risk, and another that is a “rolling” five- to 10-year, long-term portfolio, with a higher yield.