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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Chamber Corner 7/24/08

Dr. Malcolm Gillis, Marianna native, Professor of Economics and former President of Rice University graciously accepted the honorary role of Chief Economist for the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce after he spoke at our May First Friday Power Breakfast. His one duty in this capacity is to periodically provide us with periodic perspectives on the economy and what current events mean for us. Here are Dr. Gillis’ observations for July:
1. Troubling geo-political developments could push oil prices up to as much as $175 per barrel, but absent that, oil prices will likely settle down to about $115-120 per barrel by year end.
2. We have a huge and flexible economy with low unemployment by historical standards and modest inflation. The capacity of our economy to adjust is much greater than many people think.
3. Fixed income and low income folks are going to get slammed, but that very personal and real pain doesn’t mean our overall economy will choke because of it.
4. Be careful not to project too much of the present into the future.
5. Be patient. Now is the time to do some bottom fishing and seize opportunity.
6. Roll with the punches but watch out for the sucker punches
7. Read the article in the June 21 issue of The Economist titled "The Power and The Glory". It is the best thing I’ve seen in one place on the subject of Alternative Energy.
Dr. Jerry Osteryoung, Director of Outreach for the Jim Moran Institute for Global Leadership, and our speaker at July’s First Friday Power Breakfast, added these thoughts to Dr. Gillis’ perspectives:
} While the economy is down, it will turn around (cycles).
} While there are challenges, there are so many opportunities.
} This is wonderful time to make needed changes in your business
} This is structural change in our economy as to how we live and work.
} High fuel prices are going to be with us much longer that the recession.
Dr. Osteryoung added these recommendations for dealing with the economy:
} Create many different contingency plans do deal with falling sales.
} Develop a plan to reduce your fuel consumption.
} Watch your business much more carefully now.
} Look at the opportunities as well as the challenges.
} Look over every vendor contract. They are willing to negotiate on price and terms.
} Refinance as much debt as you can at these lower interest rates.
} Be willing to take lower prices to keep your customers.
} Look to acquire other firms as there are many that will have significant problems.
August First Friday
The theme for our August First Friday Power Breakfast on Friday August 1st will be education, and the title of the program will be "Making the Grade – How Jackson County Schools are addressing today’s challenges". Speakers for this program will be a team of three principals from various county schools, and their presentation will be followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session with all principals of Jackson County’s schools.
This will be a great opportunity for Jackson County business and civic leaders to interact directly with the "field generals" of education… the principals who day in and day out deal with front line issues, implement programs to increase performance, and manage the work of education.
Mark your calendar for this special interactive program. Remember, its Friday August 1st at the Agricultural Conference Center on Penn Avenue. Don’t miss it!

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