LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - While many people are still focused on the events of this past year, many economists are looking forward. 2017 is sure to have its financial highs and lows. The financial outlook for the coast was laid out in a presentation Thursday morning in Long Beach.
If asked how much the coast economy grew in 2016, Ashley Edwards might say, not as much as he had hoped. But, as the president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Business Council, he looks forward. And right now, his focus is on the BP settlement funds.
"And ultimately the strategy behind spending those for maximized returns on the Gulf Coast," said Edwards.
He presented his findings to a room full of business leaders. Some of them were wondering what the next year's economy would look like under a new presidential administration.
"We've just completed a survey of the 30 largest employers in Hancock County and the optimism is extremely high," said Bill Cork, CEO of the Hancock Port and Harbor Commission.
Adrienne Slack is the regional executive for the Federal Reserve in New Orleans. From the reserve's perspective, a new administration is just like any other impactful economic event.
"We're going to be watching the details that the administration will ultimately put forward when they're in office and ultimately we're going to be watching businesses' response to those details," said Slack.
While the Federal Reserve reacts to the economy, Edwards said it's also important for workforce training to be proactive.
"We've got to look ten years out and start preparing for what industry is going to look like ten years from now," said Edwards.
That's something that Edwards hopes to see increase in the state to help the economy. He said institutions like Pearl River Community College are riding on the cutting edge of that forward thinking.
"We're always very sensitive to the type of jobs that are available and are we creating the right programs and starting the new programs that will get students in that are attractive to students and get them in high-paying jobs," said Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, Vice President for Workforce and Economic Development at PRCC.
Thursday's presentation showed that the top three employer categories on the coast are government, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing.