CHAMPAIGN — People attending Busey Bank's local economic seminar expect the economy to improve. But they don't look for the stock market to continue to rise this year.
A survey of the 600 or so attending the seminar Tuesday at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall found they expect:
— Retail sales in Champaign County to increase to $2.68 billion this year, up from $2.58 billion in 2012.
— 216 new homes to be built in Champaign, Urbana and Savoy this year, up from 198 in 2012.
— The inflation rate to increase to 2.24 percent this year, up from 1.74 percent in 2012.
— The Dow Jones Industrial Index to level off to 14,448 by year's end — down from Monday's close of 14,599, but up from 13,104 at the end of 2012.
Each year, the bank's vice chair, Ed Scharlau, polls the audience on its expectations. The person whose predictions last year most closely matched reality at year's end was Phyllis Robeson, earning her the "Economist of the Year" award.
Also at Tuesday's seminar, the crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to Rudy Frasca, who was presented with a cake in honor of his birthday later this week. Scharlau paid tribute to Frasca and his family by showing video of a flight simulator of an aerobatic plane and highlighting Urbana-based Frasca International.
The company has delivered more than 2,500 flight training devices to more than 70 countries over the past 54 years. It brings 400 to 500 visitors a year to Champaign-Urbana, with many of them from other countries, Scharlau said.
Scharlau also encouraged the audience to get involved in National Volunteer Week, Busey's Community Promise Week and the Community and UI Campus Day of Celebration. He recommended the http://www.cuvolunteer.org website for listings of volunteer opportunities.