2014 economic forecast: Optimistic businesses

People at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids where the 2014 Colliers West Michigan Economic and Commercial Real Estate Forecast was unveiled. (Jan. 31, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The regional economy this year is expected to grow faster than last year.

Paul Isley, chairman of the Economics Department at Grand Valley State University, released the 2014 Colliers West Michigan Economic and Commercial Real Estate Forecast during an event Friday morning at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

He said the projected business confidence in West Michigan is above 70 percent for the first time since 2000. The increase means businesses are more likely to hire new workers.

The survey was conducted in November and December 2013. it looks at the economy in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties.

At Friday’s event, Isley said economic growth was mostly due to the auto industry the last few years. Now he says that growth is mostly coming from services and business professionals.

Overall findings for 2014 —

Employment is expected to grow by 2.7% to 3.1%
Sales are expected to increase by 2.4% to 2.8%
Exports are expected to grow between 8% and 9.2%

Isley said this year’s study focuses more on businesses.

“Really going to emphasize what businesses in West Michigan say they’re gonna do this year. Right now, they’re pretty optimistic. We’re looking at them hiring more than they did last year,” said Isley.

He also noted that for 2014, he believes hiring in West Michigan will be at a faster rate than the rest of the country as a whole.

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