USM Hosts 14th Annual Economic Outlook Forum

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – Academics, researchers and business professionals have gathered for an economic outlook forum at the University of Southern Mississippi. They discussed trends in the state and what is important to invest in moving forward.

Wages, labor and what to watch were all hot topics at USM’s 14th Annual Economic Development Outlook Conference.

Keynote speaker, Adrianne Slack, is the Regional Executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, New Orleans Branch. She is also a graduate of Southern Miss and says it is an honor to be part of the exchange of ideas.

“This exchange of ideas that you talk about is incredibly beneficial in normal times. But there’s so much we can learn from each other in times of uncertainty. When the economy behaves in a way that we don’t ‘have no idea how things are going to change business behavior,’ she explains.

She says it’s hard to predict the future, especially at a time when many outside forces like foreign relations and global trade are impacting local commodity prices.

But, it is important to gather and share the business trends of the past year.

First Bank Chairman and CEO Hoppy Cole says they are sponsoring the event because it benefits the whole community.

“It’s a great time to bring in customers and business people from our footprint and the Miss South footprint to, you know, get economic data and hopefully be able to help the data – it will be helpful in planning their year so that I can make decisions based on, you know, the economic outlook of income,” Cole said.

The crowd took part in real-time polls sharing their thoughts on the biggest challenges facing business growth in Mississippi and their thoughts on where to expect the most growth this year.

“The opportunity to engage with business leaders and hear how they experience the economy is extremely valuable information for the Federal Reserve. And so I always appreciate the opportunity to come here and engage” , says Slack.

Last year the conference was virtual – so attendees said they were excited to see old friends again and talk about new ideas.

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