The 2013 Business Forecast Luncheon brings in nationally recognized experts to share economic outlooks for Arkansas, the nation and the world.
Northwest Arkansas is expected to have a great year, says Kathy Deck, director of the University of Arkansas Center for Business and Economic Research.
"Northwest Arkansas is just a fantastic story," Deck says. "When you compare our performance to the state and the nation we've just blown them all away. We've regained our pre-recession employment highs here, and we really see our key industries hitting on all cylinders."
Deck says the area should see substantial employment gains across several key sectors.
"We're going to continue to see our key industries, professional and business services, and trade do very well," Deck says. "We also, with Crystal Bridges have a burgeoning hospitality sector."
Construction of both houses and highways should grow this year too.
"We see a lot more building permits in all of the different cities," Deck says. "We have highways that are going to be constructed because the tax was passed, and so we think construction is going to help lead the way."
John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. says his company produced record earnings last year, and he's cautiously optimistic about 2013.
"It seems to me like our area always does a little better than the rest of the world," he says. "We have three really really good companies here, big companies, and a lot of people that support those big three companies, a great university, great climate, I just think we've got a good package all together here."
Deck says the national economy also needs to grow for Northwest Arkansas' success to continue.
"So many of our key industries are related to consumer spending, to the ability of consumers to have big incomes and jobs and all the things that they need," she says. "We see the national economy continuing to go forward, slowly slogging through in 2013. We also see the global economy growing in 2013. The good news is we'll continue going forward, the bad news is its just not as fast as we would like to see it happen."
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