Region 8 Economy Looking Good

November 9, 2004 – Posted at 4:03 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- The business world is challenging and dynamic. Reality based television has even tapped into the market with shows such as The Apprentice and The Rebel Billionaire. But no matter what show you're watching or what part of the country you live in you have to mind your P's and Q's when it comes to economics.

"We're right here in Northeast Arkansas but we're affected by the crude oil prices. We're affected by terrorism and inflation," said Larry Worsham of Regions Bank.

That's part of the reason Arkansas State University's College of Business and Regions Bank teamed up to try to help area businesses stay two steps ahead. They sponsored an annual Economic Outlook Conference.

Experts say the state economy is on track with national averages and modestly moving in the right direction in terms of jobs, income and state revenue. Also, the unemployment rate is dropping which makes for an optimistic outlook for 2005.

"First of all I think we're going to be producing more jobs, about double the rate of what we did in 2004," said Senior Research Economist Mark Shelnutt.

Folks in Craighead County say the local economy is also looking good.

Mark Young of the Delta Center for Economic Development said, "If you take a look at housing stats, residential construction, as well as non-residential construction, we've had an increase over the past four years."

Population growth is also on the upswing, and all of these factors say 2004 wasn't too bad after all. "It looks like 2005 will be a pretty stable year as well we're optimistic," said Worsham.

The Federal government is expected to raise interest rates soon.