A presentation and panel discussion, “Economic Vision 2016 and Beyond: Creating a Vibrant Future,” was held Tuesday by the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce and Niagara University at the Castellani Art Museum.
Gary Keith, vice president and regional economist with M&T Bank, was the keynote speaker. He touched on several points on the U.S. economy, such as gross domestic product growth, personal consumption spending and other income and employment related topics. He also mentioned the Western New York economy. The bulk, however, of his presentation was on the economic trends, progress and challenges of Niagara County.
“A number of things are working for us – tourism, retail, hospitality, business services. But the sobering reality is the manufacturing part of our economy is under stress still,” Keith said.
Keith stressed the importance of local leaders and members of the community, discussing how the county can help grow the workforce. “If we continue to roll up our sleeves and continue to work hard at the challenges we have in front of us, I think we can continue to make solid progress,” he said.
Keith also compared the growth paths of Niagara and Erie counties. Not only did Erie County recapture the jobs lost during the main stages of the recession, as Niagara County did, but it also contributed additional jobs.
With that, Keith said the “depth of the recession” in Niagara County was significantly more profound than that of Erie County.
“Difficulty recovering what you once had, has been a big part of the last several years’ story. The downturn we saw at the national level is pretty much what we’ve seen here in Niagara County,” Keith said. “Erie, on the other hand, (had a) much shallower decline – a much easier glide path to get to growth. We want to emulate a little more of that type of behavior.”
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