Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! Tis the holiday season and time for Grinch Ron to be thankful and make predictions for 2020. First of all, I am thankful that our economy has been consistent and/or consistent in certain sectors. The recession will always be a benchmark for me to remember. Of course, agriculture is still down but it has been relatively stable with signs of improvement. Milk prices are slowly moving up and hopefully that will transition to the Ag equipment industry, which many of our manufacturers depend on.
I was thinking about what $1 or $2 could do to our county economy. A $1 per bushel increase in corn, a $2 per bushel increase in soybeans or milk price per cwt, has a considerable impact when you realize the volume of corn, soybeans, and milk our farmers produce. Unfortunately, we did lose a higher percentage of dairy farmers than we would normally see through attrition. Beef and pork production is the same. The impact of a dollar or two per hundredweight (though we would prefer to talk in $10 increments) is significant to the amount of revenue our farmers could reinvest in their farms and their families. Our other industries are doing fine, overall. Metal machining varies depending on their target clients. Our dairy processors show stability and growth potential.
For 2020, I am expecting a slow growth overall, less than 3%, but not a decline. I have been hearing of an anticipated correction in our stock market, which in my opinion, has not really happened yet. What I am hearing, seeing, and sensing, is that we will continue to see modest growth among our businesses. Interest rates are low and there is interest in growth. I don’t expect to see a lot of major construction around the county but I think you will see some. Expansions will be “inside the walls” of the businesses, with new equipment added, and more people hired. Obviously, the challenge of finding new workers is present and will be here for years to come. A slow, methodical, growth pattern and strategy is what I hear my companies talking about.
My office is focused on reaching out more aggressively to businesses outside the region and further targeting new business growth within our county. I believe there are opportunities. Rather than educating our youth and then watching them leave the area, create opportunities for them to stay or return to Grant County. We are “experimenting” with new strategies and we will see if they bear fruit. Like with anything, these efforts will likely take years to see measurable results, but that is what economic development looks like.
May we all have a prosperous New Year!
Ron Brisbois, Executive Director – Grant County EDC