Busey seminar attendees bearish about economy

Busey seminar attendees bearish about economy

CHAMPAIGN – Area business and civic leaders predict Champaign County will experience moderate inflation and lower retail sales in 2009.

First Busey Corp. Vice Chairman Ed Scharlau on Wednesday delivered his annual seminar on the local economy and, as is custom, asked attendees to make their own forecasts.

Audience members, meeting at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall, estimated inflation will average 1.5 percent for the year, up from zero last year.

More than half the audience, about 53 percent, predicted the Dow Jones industrial average will not reach 10,000 again until 2011.

Retail sales in the county could decline to $2.44 billion in 2009, according to the audience, down from $2.5 billion in 2005. Scharlau has also estimated retail sales will decline by about 4 percent to $2.4 billion.

The number of new single-family homes to be built this year was estimated at 330, according to the audience, down from 353 in 2008, 675 in 2007 and 975 in 2006. Scharlau is predicting 317 for 2009.

Gas will remain below $3 per gallon in 2009, coming in at $2.42 per gallon, according to audience estimates.

Scharlau delivers the economic seminar, taking a look at retail and real estate sales, payroll data, agricultural output, construction data and more.

"I want people to feel good about what's going on and be inspired to leave wanting to do something to help out," Scharlau said.

The theme for this year's seminar was "What makes the CU area a 'micro-urban' community."

For those who are interested in attending the seminar and are not currently on the mailing list, e-mail your name and address to stephanie.elmer@busey.com.

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Topics (1):Economy