What a Year It's Been!

By Hannah Wallace November 30, 2007

A year ago on this page, I advised cautious optimism as the economic mood to adopt moving into 2007. In hindsight, the cautious part of my suggestion was sound, but my optimism went unfulfilled. It’s been one helluva year for our bicounty region.

The downturn began in ’06 in the home sector, spread to banking and retail, and then managed to affect most others. No one I’ve spoken with denies that it’s temporary. It’s just that no one knows when we’ll be out of it. There’s lots of speculation, some of it informed and some not, but the truth is nobody knows anything for real.

But I wasn’t totally wrong in my perspective. One point I made did hold up: Our long-term success is dictated by how effectively we deal with the downs of our respective marketplaces. Positive thinking, creative solutions and progressive action can help us successfully navigate through difficult times. Nothing profound, but reality dictates that an economic downturn is often the catalyst for creating the distinction between winners and losers. How we perform during a downturn can be more telling than during a boom period. So I don’t know about you, but I’ll remain cautiously optimistic attitudinally, but very cautious intellectually. After all, without hope there’s despair, which often produces failure. Since failure’s not an option, I’ll choose to remain upbeat with eyes wide open.

My sanguine sensibility was reinforced by Emily Sperling of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, who referred me to the 2007 Sarasota County Economic Profile. There are quite a few promising trends going on. Our area enjoyed strong industry growth over the last several years and outpaced many other regions of the country. The number of new establishments continues to grow, especially in specific industry clusters like professional services, creative services and biosciences. Many of our region’s business sectors continue to thrive and grow at higher rates than many other markets and the national average, particularly those that are comprised of value-added companies (those that export their products or services to outside markets).

One of the most promising conclusions coming out of the study is that the economy of Sarasota County is becoming more diversified. The continuance of that diversity bodes well for our economic health, spreading both risk and reward over several sectors as opposed to just a few.

In the meantime, all of us at Biz941 wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and a healthy, happy New Year as we hopefully begin the journey back to economic prosperity.

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