If an economy is growing but not creating enough jobs, is the economy really growing? That might very well be a philosophical question one of many recent college graduates has time to ponder as they stroll the Riverwalk on a weekday afternoon, with their resume in hand on their way to yet another job interview.
A few weeks ago, the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce published an update on local economic indicators in a note to our membership and received interesting feedback on the piece. The aggregate totals of locally assessed taxes such as the sales tax and real estate transfer tax have grown faster than inflation, which normally would indicate a robust and vibrant economy.
However, these gains have been outweighed by the stubbornly high unemployment rate and other indicators that demonstrate the economy’s uneven strength and recovery. While growth in the economy and belt tightening have helped balance our local governments’ budgets, we cannot lose sight of the 5,800 Naperville residents who are looking for work and cannot find a job.
Our local unemployment rate remains roughly double what it was before the recession, and we’re supposedly several years into “recovery.” But the chamber also recognizes that our local fortunes are tied to the decisions made in capitals domestically and internationally, and broader trends within the global economy.
So while the chamber can and will work to improve the local climate and help our businesses grow, we also want to provide the community with analysis on the macro-economic environment.
On Oct. 24, the chamber and Calamos Investments will co-host one of the community’s most informative events of the year, the annual Regional Economic Forecast, at Hotel Arista.
This event is one of the most important events the chamber hosts, because it provides insight into the economy for our regional business community. Before businesses choose to invest — whether this investment takes the form of new jobs, equipment or expansion strategies — owners, executives and managers have to feel reasonably confident about the future.
With the help of Calamos Investments, our region’s job creators will have access to some of the nation’s leading economic analysts. Returning as a panelist and co-host of the event is John P. Calamos Sr., chief executive officer and global co-chief of investment officer for Naperville-based Calamos Investments.
We’ll also be joined by Blu Putnam, managing director and chief economist for the CME Group; and J.D. Foster, the chief deputy economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation.
The wealth of experiences our panelists have advising, researching and testifying on monetary and fiscal policy is outstanding; the insight they will offer to the business community will be detailed, robust and thought provoking.
To keep the discussion on track, financial guru Terry Savage will serve as moderator. Her columns, blogs and TV appearances have helped Americans make sense of markets and the economy for years.
There are few certainties in life, and we are vividly reminded daily that economic conditions can change rapidly, but the worst decision a business owner can take is to be paralyzed by the fear of the unknown.
With the help of Calamos Investments, we’re convening this important forum because we know the more business owners know about the economic outlook, the more likely they are to get to work creating jobs in our community.
To learn more about the Economic Forecast, or to read the chamber’s latest economic update to the membership, visit our website, www.naperville.net.
Michael A. Evans is president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, a 1,500-member strong organization. He can be reached at 630-544-3382.