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2008 Prediction: Building and Job Growth Should Boost Local Economy

Like everyone else, I was looking forward to the holiday season. However, with the beginning of the new year, throngs of pundits are giving us dozens of theories about how the next 12 months will end up. Every bank, financial institution, business school and freelance economist has an opinion.

In addition to it being a new year, it also is a presidential election year , one with the California primary occurring in February for the first time.

There is something to be said about how the economy will run in 2008. Election years bring all parties together to ensure the economy grows, so each group can take credit for our prosperity.

Personally, as an unqualified economist but a person who is a big observer of the economic trends in North County, I project that 2008 will be slightly better than 2007.

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Why? Because so much money is being spent in the region that jobs are created, which creates personal spending. Purchases by working folks paint a vivid picture of an area’s state of well-being.

If the economy was really as bad off as it is often portrayed to be by the media, then our economy would be faltering, but instead we are seeing record spending in transportation, hotel construction, commercial building, industrial development and, yes, even housing being built.


Lumped In

Far too often, San Diego gets lumped in with the national picture and gets a black eye. Companies such as Genomyx are still going public here. Take into account that acquisitions are happening in near record numbers , Burnham Real Estate selling to Cushman & Wakefield, the Irvine Co. buying every commercial office building in sight and more than a dozen hotels are being built in North County alone, led by a new Sheraton in Carlsbad and Marriott in Oceanside. The San Diego Association of Governments is going to spend several billion dollars on freeways, local roadways and transportation projects, which create lots of jobs.

The North County Transportation District just turned on the key to its latest mass transit project, the Sprinter. The $500 million project will run between Oceanside and Escondido and tie riders into the Coaster and bus lines while traveling the state Route 78 corridor, alleviating at least 10,000 to 15,000 cars daily.

The Indian gaming tribes are planning on building bigger casinos, hotels, resorts and shopping complexes on their properties.

Viejas is leading the way with a project that could top $800 million.

In North County, Pala Casino, Spa and Resort will spend $100 million to expand their casino and parking facilities, San Pasqual is going to build a 160-room boutique hotel on their property and the Pauma Band of Mission Indians is finishing a plan to tear down their temporary casino and spend $300 million on a new casino and hotel complex.

All of these things will create jobs and lots of them.

In Carlsbad alone, Poseidon Resources Corp. will begin to build a $300 million desalination plant this year. NRG Power, owners of the Encinas power station, will begin the building of a modern power plant on the site of an old, oil burning one.

It will include an environmentally safer plant and a 65-acre redevelopment of the beachfront site. Also in Carlsbad, at least one new high school will begin construction, 2 million feet of commercial, retail and industrial space is currently under way and a major multimillion-dollar remodeling of the Carlsbad Village will begin this year. Oceanside, Vista, Encinitas, San Marcos and Escondido are all experiencing a surge in building and job growth.


Unbelievable

All of this growth sounds unbelievable, and I told you I was an unqualified economist at the beginning of this column, but I think you can see that more than a few rumblings are going on in 2008 in North County.

Here are a couple of other observations:

– & #8201;If you want to see the picture of success played out in Carlsbad, mark Feb. 22 on your calendar and come to the Four Seasons Resort Aviara to witness local stars of business receive honor and recognition at the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce’s 40th Annual Business Awards dinner. The Hollywood-themed program will salute the best of the best in business.

– & #8201;If you want to participate in a business trade mission to China, mark Nov. 1 to 11 down to travel with 200 to 300 North County businessmen and women to Southern China, Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Taipei and Shenzhen.

You will get to meet Chinese business leaders and see their exploding economy firsthand. In November 2006, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce led a delegation of 350 to China and it was a great success.


Ted Owen is the president and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.

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