by Colton Campbell

A decade ago, the bubble burst. Foreclosure notices in local newspapers spanned more pages than ever. Terms like “subprime mortgage” and “toxic assets” flooded the American lexicon.

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Smith talks about the Economic Forecast Breakfast.

Understanding economics became an important part of life, and Dr. William “Joey” Smith, associate professor in and chair of the Department of Economics at the University of West Georgia, noticed a sharp increase in interest surrounding the annual Economic Forecast Breakfast, then in its 12th year.

“Though we’ve climbed out of the Great Recession and are in a time of what’s a pretty rapid expansionary mode, we’re still seeing a great amount of interest in what’s going on locally and nationally,” Smith said. “We have people from all walks of life – business leaders, political leaders, community leaders and just everyday citizens – who want to learn how events that happen in their community interplay with each other to generate wealth, income or new jobs.”

The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Richards College of Business will host the 22nd annual Economic Forecast Breakfast on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 7:30-9:30 a.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom in Carrollton. The event will include discussions on the economic forecast for the nation, state and region.

The breakfast will feature Chris Clark, Sally Wallace and Smith as speakers. Wallace serves as the dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and Clark is the president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Smith will speak on the economic vitality of six counties in the West Georgia region – Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson, Paulding and Polk – while Clark and Wallace will speak on the state’s economy and potential legislation that could affect businesses in the upcoming legislative session.

Since the Great Recession, the breakfast has focused a rather substantial portion of its running time to issues in real estate economics and how the housing market is behaving locally, statewide and nationally.

“We’ve realized how much of the West Georgia economy and the economy of the state as a whole is tied to the real estate market and how much we’re dependent on the growth occurring in local housing markets,” Smith said. “One of the reasons people are more educated in economics now is that they’ve realized they aren’t isolated. A majority of the public, 10 years ago, thought that what was happening in Atlanta – or California or New York – didn’t affect them, but the housing crisis was something that happened everywhere, all at once.”

Smith, who graduated from UWG – then called West Georgia College – in 1993, was the first member of his family to graduate college and only the second member to graduate high school.

After more than a decade of pursuing his master’s degree and Ph.D. and working in GSU’s Fiscal Research Center, Smith returned to UWG as an assistant professor in 2006.

During his tenure, the CBER has advised local businesses and other organizations – including the state Legislature – on economics-related topics, including the economic contribution of certain firms to the community or how a tax credit will affect Georgians.

“We aim to provide good information that leaders of businesses or the state government can use to make informed decisions,” Smith said, adding the center is currently conducting a study on the state’s film tax credit. “When we provide research to the state, we do so in a completely non-partisan way. We’re not in the business of trying to promote anything other than good decision-making. In today’s world, that’s an incredibly worthwhile contribution.”

Smith said this year’s breakfast will be one of the most optimistic in recent memory.

Guy working on financial papers“This year, probably more than any year, we’ve seen a substantial uptick in the number of jobs,” Smith said. “We’ve also seen a large downward push in the unemployment rate. These are things that are happening both nationally and locally, and we’re excited to talk more about them during the breakfast.”

Smith described the Economic Forecast Breakfast as giving attendees a “snapshot in time” of what’s happening in the world around them economically, while also giving them a bit of direction as to where the economy may be headed in the next few months to couple of years.

“When everyone walks away from our breakfast, I hope they all have the information they need to make good decisions about their businesses if they’re business owners, about policy if they’re elected officials or about their daily lives if they’re average citizens,” he said. “We want everyone to be as well-prepared as they can for whatever comes.”

Posted on October 25, 2018