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Business Predictions for the New Year

A New Year brings a sense of renewed energy and hope for things to come. It also brings predictions for what to expect from the New Year. You can find predictions about who will win the Super Bowl, the rise of Apple TV, the growing power of Social Media, and the economy.  Kiplinger has provided some predictions for the Economic Outlook in 2013: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will show about two percent growth – same as 2012. Interest rates will show little to no increase for short-term rates. Housing sales increased by eight percent in 2012. Retail sales had a rough start in 2012, but a strong finish, and that pattern is likely to repeat in 2013.

Several people who are a part of the Flagstaff community are excited about 2013 and are offering predictions on the home front.

Richard Bowen, president/CEO of the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona (ECoNA), said, “I am bullish on Flagstaff and see 2013 as the comeback year and 2014 as the year we start to reach pre-2008 levels of economic activity.” Bowen supports this prediction with current growth and development he is seeing on the homefront. WL Gore is currently building a new plant in Flagstaff, with plans for two more in the next two years, which means employment for many. Lowell Observatory is planning a major expansion of its visitor center with a high tech digital planetarium. Tourism is on the rise, and according to Bowen, there was a 23 percent increase in 2012.

ECoNA’s focus is “on job growth and wealth creation for Northern Arizona,” said Bowen. Bowen credits the “collaborative efforts of private, public and non-profit sectors that have built consortiums to make significant investments in infrastructure and projects to allow Flagstaff to attract new companies and grow existing ones.” He feels Flagstaff has “enormous economic potential but has not been strategic and aggressive in competing in economic development.” He is hoping in 2013 to be more aggressive in pursuing growth in the biosciences, education, forest products, astronomy, technology, manufacturing and healthcare sectors.

It seems that Flagstaff’s Mayor, Jerry Nabours is in agreement with Bowen’s vision. Nabours is “seeing a new trend that our city rules and regulations should encourage business rather than throw obstacles in the path.” He claims that this is a change from recent years and an attitude he feels will continue to grow. His hope for 2013 and beyond is that Flagstaff will gain a reputation for being a business-friendly city.

Russ Yelton, president/CEO of Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET),  predicts, “businesses in Flagstaff will continue to see improved growth as long as the federal government makes necessary changes in order to avoid the Fiscal Cliff.” NACET’s mission is threefold:              – To stimulate technology transfer and new business creation.

– To help emerging businesses succeed through their critical first years.

– To facilitate the funding of promising new businesses that create high-wage jobs and produce a net gain for the region as a whole.

 

Yelton feels there “will continue to be growth in both the software and life science sectors with a continued need for employee training both at the community college and university levels.”

The Dean of the W. A. Franke College of Business at Northern Arizona University, Craig Van Slyke, shares Yelton’s beliefs about employee training. He feels that educators have to “figure out new ways to do workforce training.” He states that although in 2013 there “still will be continued uncertainty, the economy will get better gradually.” What he says is needed, however, is “finding people who are capable of filling the jobs we have.” Technology has played, and will continue to play, a major role in the workforce and in education. He is an advocate for what is called “Blended Learning”— which Dean Van Slyke says NAU’s President Haeger sees as a future trend.

Blended Learning is calling for “less seat time” – time in the classroom listening to lectures – and more face-to-face time to discover the “real world.” Students will be encouraged to learn in a variety of mediums and have a chance to develop skills that cannot be taught in the classroom. Van Slyke has been at NAU since July and is fully embracing NAU’s slogan, “The Difference That Matters.” He sees 2013 as a year of challenges and opportunities and is excited to be a part of it.

Moran Henn of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future believes a “strong, diversified, local economy” is essential in her organization’s vision of Flagstaff as a community that is “socially just, embraces environmentally sustainable lifestyles, protects open spaces, promotes local and equitable food systems and encourages the democratic process.” Henn says that 2012 was a tough economic year for Flagstaff but she is hoping that out of the adversity “new innovative business models will emerge – ones that acknowledge the limits of growth, recognize the effects of climate change, address the unique character of our town, and most importantly demonstrate principles of sustainability and social responsibility.” Her hope is to “strengthen and promote local businesses through the Shop Local campaign during the Holiday Season and to create and increase business partnerships and networks.” She sees 2013 as a year of collaboration and partnership building and wishes locally owned businesses success and prosperity.

It seems the New Year will be presenting some interesting challenges in the world of business, education and the local economy. Welcome, 2013! FBN

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