Economic symposium sheds light on Coast economy

Economic symposium sheds light on Coast economy

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -Local leaders say the Coast’s economy is growing, but what do the numbers say?

Friday morning, 500 business and community leaders found out that they’re right, but there’s lots of room for growth.

"If economic sentiment is a barometer of what’s coming, that’s a more positive story then we’ve had in a long time,” said John Hairston, Hancock-Whitney CEO.

Hairston referred to economic research that shows the overall confidence in the Coast’s economy has risen to nearly 70 percent in the last 10 years. In other words, local business leaders like where the economy is and where it’s headed.

"I think economic confidence is one of those measures we look at because, ultimately, the more confident our local leaders are in the economy, the more they’re going to invest in the local economy. We want to see those investments,” said Ashley Edwards, Gulf Coast Business Council CEO.

Meanwhile, 60 percent surveyed said they think the area’s economy will either be the same or better in the next six months. While confidence is high, the numbers show only slight economic growth here on the Coast and in the state.

“The Coast has been flat during the last few years. We haven’t seen that really strong growth,” said economist Darin Webb. "Overall, you follow the state. The state’s been kind of flat, and you’ve been sort of flat as well.”

The challenge for the 500 or so business leaders here is to get together, take those ideas they learned and move the Coast’s economy forward.

“As you look at the numbers, we’ve been relatively flat for a number of years,” Edwards said. “The good news is we’ve seen a recent uptick in the last couple of years, so there’s a good outlook going forward, so we hope to achieve what we see in the sentiment here on the Coast. I think we must set a high bar here on the Coast because what we see in competitor regions is that they’re doing well, and the economic upturn is translating into other regions like the Coast. We haven’t seen it here like we’d like to see it.”

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