Screven Countians turned an attentive ear to economic expert Jeremy Hill at a recent breakfast meeting when he stated that Savannah and Statesboro would lead the region into economic recovery.
Hill is director at the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University in Kansas.
Hill spoke at R&D's restaurant.
"We measure economics with GDP," said Hill, and since 70 percent of GDP comes from personal consumption, retail offers a good look into the condition of our economy.
While retail has increased for the last year, he said, the question remains, how strongly will we move forward out of the 2007 recession?
Due to an irrational consumer sentiment, we could be stuck in a retail paralysis, said Hill.
"Consumers knew we were doing badly," said Hill. "They knew they didn't have the money, but spent money anyway," he said.
In Screven, goods producing rebounded almost immediately after the 2001 recession, said Hill, but Sylvania likely won't be as quick to recover this time.
Though we officially came out of the recession as a nation in June 2009, Hill said moving forward has been a slow and questionable process.
While Bulloch County was devastated by the recession with about 20 percent decline in employment, Statesboro would continue to thrive, said Hill, because of the Georgia Southern University and Ogeechee Tech.
Gulfstream wiould be the savior of Savannah, as it is one of the only aviation companies that has done very well during this time, said Hill.
"Savannah is really poised to lead the recovery for the area," he said.
What could help a town like Sylvania is also capturing a niche market that would cater to the higher-end spenders-a service or product that offers a purchasing experience that couldn't be replicated online or out of town.
While a "healing labor market" would support increased consumption in 2012, Sylvania will not likely benefit from that consumption.
The immediate "urgent" need for economic growth, said Hill, is for consumers to make rational financial decisions.
"Financial reform and market constraints are going to force consumers to be more rational," he said.