Key Indicators Show the Economic Bulls Still Running Nationally, Locally

Bullish is the still the word — and the outlook — for the U.S. economy, and its net positive trickle-down effects at the state, regional, and local levels can’t be ignored.

That’s the viewpoint from Jeffrey D. Saut, the chief investment strategist for Raymond James Financial, Inc., and the company’s managing director of equity research.

Saut’s talk about the economy — as it stands now and the trend for the near future — was the highlight when friends of the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council gathered for the chamber’s 8th Annual Economic Forum.

The Jan. 11 breakfast forum, hosted by Pat Cain Wealth Solutions/Raymond James and held at Lake Ashton, was a very positive kickoff to the new year, and we at the Chamber-EDC are thankful we had one of the nation’s top economic, investment, and equity experts as featured speaker.

Saut’s expertise and insightful commentary about the stock markets and national economy often are sought by Wall Street Week, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, USA Networks, Fox TV, NPR, and many local radio and TV networks. His comments also can be found often in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Barron’s, the Washington Post, Business Week, U.S. News and World Report, Fortune, SmartMoney, as on many news-business websites like MSNBC and TheStreet.com. Saut’s own column can be found on the Raymond James website. [https://www.raymondjames.com/pointofview/author/saut]

Given his experience, extensive knowledge, and highly sought-out commentary, Saut’s bullish mind-set about the national economy had forum attendees thinking positively about local business and economic development prospects this year and well into 2020.

Saut based his optimistic economic report on the following key fundamentals:

  • New construction remains at a high pitch.
  • The pace of business mergers and acquisitions is up.
  • Profits are high, promoting an increase in capital expenditures and other business reinvestments.
  • New factories are coming online.
  • Manufacturing is on an uptick across the country.
  • The employment rate is low.
  • There’s still a lot of value in the equity markets.

Locally, the signs have us bullish, too.

  • Home construction is on an upswing, with no reason to believe it won’t continue.
  • Companies are hiring, helping to keep the Polk County jobless rate low. Every new month brings new announcements about upcoming job fairs. A Fence Outlet job fair, held Jan. 10 at its manufacturing center on State Road 60 West, is a prime example.
  • The business growth along U.S. Highway 27 was tremendous last year, especially on the north side of Lake Wales, with several more projects under way and others in the pipeline for development.
  • The population growth rate for greater Lake Wales is looking positive, signaling a consistently growing consumer demand for goods and services.
  • Expansion continues at the nearby and ever-more-popular Legoland Florida Resort, generating a positive economic spillover effect for Lake Wales and other communities in east Polk County.
  • The full business-generating potential of Lake Wales Municipal Airport has yet to be tapped. Jan. 15 marked the official ribbon cutting and grand opening of the airport’s recently extended Runway 06/24. The long-awaited extension allows for larger planes to take off and land at the airport.
  • Expectations are high for tenant and business-manufacturing growth at the Lake Wales Commerce and Technology Park this year.

The bullish economic outlook for the economy at every level doesn’t mask the challenges that we as a nation, region, and community face – chief among them locally is what to do about the always-busy and often-congested U.S. 27 traffic corridor – but we’ll figure them out. We’re bullish about that, too. Challenges are good – keeping life, and work, and economic development always interesting.