Hundreds of thousands of job losses in the past few years, plus a wartime recession have resulted in a beaten down south Georgia's economy, but business experts say 2004 will be a much better year.
Experts from UGA's Terry College of Business met with local store owners to share their knowledge of the state's economy. They say the job losses will take years to get back, but Georgia is on the road to recovery.
Ron Dixon says 2003 wasn't the busiest year he's seen as the owner of Al Dixon's clothing store, but he feels 2004 will be better.
"I feel like it's going to be a good year. I feel like people are more at ease, the interest rates are going up, the people that have a set income are feeling a bit better and they're spending more," says Ron Dixon.
Business experts at the University of Georgia's annual economic outlook forum say things are looking up, especially after the patterns they've seen in the past few years. Downtown business owners say recent job losses in our area have had a negative domino effect on their business. They say bringing industry back to south Georgia will bring the economy back up.
"I think Thomasville has a relatively diverse economic base as it is wonderful climate and location, so this should be a magnet to draw in corporations from around the world, and that is beginning to happen," says George Benson.
Experts say it may take time to regain the losses the state has seen, but the state is on the right track to recovery. Business experts say Georgia is expected to lose another 1300 manufacturing jobs statewide this year, but that is a small number compared to the amount we've seen in the past few years.
They also say there's been a shift of power within the economy. Experts say last year consumers and the federal government were more in control of the economy, spending money and lowering interest rates, but now interest rates are back up and businesses are regaining control and are able to attract customers.