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Borek: Chicago Fed economist to address economic outlook luncheon

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

Economist William “Bill” Strauss of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank will release his economic projections for the coming year at the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp.’s 2013 economic outlook luncheon.

The annual event has proven valuable to business and community leaders in planning for economic activity during the coming year. It will be held the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Center for Agriculture from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 17.

Early reservations are recommended. Strauss’s understandable description and clear illustration of the dynamics contributing to economic performance has sold out the event in past years.

Strauss’ chief responsibilities include analyzing the Midwest economy and the manufacturing sector. He produces the monthly Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index and organizes the bank’s economic outlook symposium and automotive outlook symposium.

In February, Strauss predicted the economy would continue to expand but at a pace below the historical trend. Employment was projected to “rise moderately” resulting in a lower unemployment rate. Inflation would be contained by the tepid economic recovery.

Primary metals and vehicle manufacturing – the two manufacturing sectors that took the biggest hits during the recession – have led the manufacturing recovery. Automobile sales were projected to “rise at a good pace,” and manufacturing output was projected to be “solid.”

DeKalb County has seen increased manufacturing activity recently. Fourteen industrial companies have relocated to or expanded in DeKalb County over the past three years.

Attendees at DCEDC’s recent Annual Dinner and State of the County Address in October were advised that manufacturers are starting to return to the U.S. from abroad (“reshoring”). Harold “Hal” Sirkin, senior partner and managing director with The Boston Consulting Group’s Chicago office, predicted U.S. productivity and competitive advantages combined with rising wages in China will drive reinvestment to the U.S.

Sirkin highlighted seven industry sectors where China cost advantages are projected to evaporate. These include several that have a presence in or near DeKalb County: machinery, fabricated metals, plastics and rubber, appliances and electrical equipment, and transportation.

To hear Bill Strauss address economic projections for the coming year, register for DCEDC’s 2013 Economic Outlook Luncheon.

Registration before Dec. 21 costs $40 for DCEDC members and $55 for nonmembers. After Dec. 21, standard rates are $50 for members and $65 for nonmembers. Registration can be completed online at dcedc.org, by phone at 815-895-2711 or email at hoyle@dcedc.org.

• Paul Borek is executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp.

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