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December 30, 2012

IU economist foresees some statewide growth in 2013

Neininger: Modest optimism fair for local economy, too.

LOGANSPORT — After underestimating Indiana’s economic rebound in 2012, an Indiana University economist says 2013 should prove a “tolerable year for the Indiana economy.”

Jerry N. Conover, director of the Indiana Business Research Center at IU’s Kelley School of Business, expects the state’s unemployment rate to descend very slowly, ending in a year’s time at about 7 percent and taking two or three years to return to pre-recession levels.

Writing in the school’s Outlook 2013 issue of the Indiana Business Review, Conover added that relatively rapid rises in the state’s personal income levels should combine with improving employment to help home sales and new home construction pick up steam.

He expects existing-home sales to rise 14 percent in 2013 and housing starts to increase by a third.

Local businesses are poised to maintain the status quo or grow a modest amount, according to a spokeswoman for the Cass Logan Economic Development Organization.

Connie Neininger, CLEDO president, said it was fair to be a little optimistic about the coming year’s local economic prospects.

“A lot of the companies have taken proactive steps to weather the recession, and they’re conservative, which is good,” Neininger said. “They don’t see any negatives coming down the pike. They are looking towards at least holding their own, if not improving.”

She’s hoping to see the county’s unemployment rate slide slowly down in the coming year, too, like Conover expects statewide.

Indiana’s economy overall was hit harder by the nation’s recession, but started recovering more quickly, led by a rebound in manufacturing, Conover stated.

In 2013, the expected 2 percent growth in the state gross domestic product is likely to be slower than national growth, but should finally make the economy larger than it was before the recession, he added.

Cass County companies will probably keep spending revenues conservatively, yet some are looking at potential growth, Neininger added.

“They’re starting to plan for new projects, new expansions, but again, they want to take it slow,” she said.

Conover alluded to that expected tendency to grow slowly, what he called a “time-honored Hoosier trait” of practicing conservative caution.

It’s also smart business, according to Neininger.

“It’s a good method and a good way to manage your business,” she said. “History has shown that companies that grow too big, too fast usually end up getting themselves in trouble.

“It has a lot to say about our agricultural background, our farm roots,” added Neininger. “Farmers realized that we had to tighten the belts to make it through many a year.”

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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