Nothing goes better with breakfast than a hearty economic forecast.
M&T Bank on Tuesday morning held its annual economic forecasting panel at the Westin Hotel on West Broad Street.
This year’s event was called “An Economic Roadmap: ‘What Comes Next?’”
A panel of local business people gave their takes on the local economy.
The panelists included Jay Smith, president of Cox Transportation Services; David Urban, executive associate dean at the VCU School of Business; Carroll Hurst, partner at Keiter CPA; Jack Woodfin, owner of the Woodfin Companies; and Bud Ohly, president of Eagle Construction of Virginia.
Hugh Newton, head of M&T’s Richmond operations, moderated the discussion.
Presenting his bar-graph-heavy take on the economy, M&T regional economist Gary Keith thanked the crowd of about 100 for digesting such a serious topic so early in the morning.
“It’s not something we generally want to start our day with,” Keith said.
Keith described current conditions as a “sluggish economy that’s making progress but not firing on all cylinders.”
Keith predicted 2.8 percent growth in regional GDP for 2013, but he joked that economic forecasting isn’t an exact science.
“None of us really can forecast. We can make educated guesses,” he said.
Bud Ohly offered his perspective as a homebuilder.
“I think we have hit bottom,” Ohly said. “But the trajectory is not great.”
In the trucking industry, according to Jay Smith, business is still fluctuating.
“You go from one minute where you can’t get it all done to where you don’t have enough to go around,” Smith said.
Smith and Jack Woodfin both said good help is hard to find these days.
“If you’re a qualified over-the-road truck driver, it’s easy to find a job. I’ll hire you today.”
There were no truckers in the crowd.