News: Quick Takes

Economists cautiously optimistic about North Carolina growth in 2017

From left, Wells Fargo’s Mark Vitner, UNC Charlotte’s John Connaughton, Appalachian State University’s Harry Davis, N.C. State University’s Michael Walden, and Capital Tonight host Tom Boyum discuss North Carolina’s economic forecast during a forum hosted by the N.C. Chamber and the N.C. Bankers Association on Wednesday. (CJ photo by Barry Smith)
From left, Wells Fargo’s Mark Vitner, UNC Charlotte’s John Connaughton, Appalachian State University’s Harry Davis, N.C. State University’s Michael Walden, and Capital Tonight host Tom Boyum discuss North Carolina’s economic forecast during a forum hosted by the N.C. Chamber and the N.C. Bankers Association on Wednesday. (CJ photo by Barry Smith)

 

DURHAM — Economists on Wednesday said they expected North Carolina’s economy to grow somewhat in 2017, but they cautioned against counting on a robust growth during the coming year.

The panel of economists presented their observations to business leaders gathered at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Conference Center during an economic forecast forum hosted by the N.C. Chamber and the N.C. Bankers Association.

Tim Boyum, host of Time Warner Cable’s Capital Tonight, moderated the panel made up of Harry Davis, an economist and professor at Appalachian State University; Michael Walden, a professor at N.C. State University; Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo, and John Connaughton, a professor at UNC Charlotte.

Davis said the business climate in Washington, D.C., will improve with President-elect Donald Trump moving into the White House. He said the president can do a lot of things through executive orders, such as whittling down regulations on businesses.

“It’s going to be a different environment in that sense, which is going to be positive for the business environment in this country,” Davis said.

Vitner, who joked that he’s “paying attention to Twitter now” since Trump tweets frequently, said Trump’s tax policy, regulatory reform, and conservative Supreme Court justices could help improve the business climate.

Walden noted that while North Carolina lagged behind other states during the first five years after the Great Recession, the state’s economy has picked up steam in the past couple years.

“We are still adjusting to a globalizing economy and a technology economy,” Walden said. He said he expects the state’s economy to grow even faster this year, partly because of the number of people moving to North Carolina from other states.

While the state’s economy is growing, the economists said the fallout from House Bill 2 remains a problem for the state’s growth.

“Even if we change the law we’re going to have to live with this for a few more years, until some other state does something stupid,” Connaughton said.