The Bryan-College Station economy continues to grow despite national fears of an economic slowdown, according to a local index that measures a number of indicators and factors.
The Chamber of Commerce’s annual Inside BCS all-day event Wednesday gave community members and local business leaders a chance to learn more about K-12 education, higher education, local and county government, economic development, health care, communication and criminal justice in the area.
Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Matt Prochaska noted during the economic development discussion that a Belgium company called the triangle “magic.”
With a $22.6 billion gross market value in 2017 — and the 2018 numbers still to come — and a historic low unemployment rate of 2.8%, he said, the area is being included in benchmarks with Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio like never before, attracting national and international attention.
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“Cautious optimism” was the overall forecast for the local economy given Wednesday during the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Outlook Conference.
Leaders in education, local government, economic development and tourism touted the new jobs, schools, businesses, housing and other markers of growth the area has seen in response to the climbing population, thanks in no small part to enrollment numbers at Texas A&M University. Keynote speaker Jim Gaines, chief economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center at A&M, told the crowd at the College Station Hilton that he expects 2018’s growth pattern will continue into 2019.
People are spending their money, staying in hotels and buying things such as cars and houses in Bryan-College Station — all indicators that point toward a healthy local economy.
Karr Ingham, an Amarillo-based economist who spoke to attendees at the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce’s economic outlook briefing Wednesday, said the area has experienced an “extraordinary” economic expansion since 2011. General spending, home sales activity, employment and other indicators Ingham uses to prepare the local economic index sponsored by Commerce National Bank are currently at or near record levels, he said, and growth will likely continue moving into 2019.
– Caitlin Clark, The Bryan-College Station Eagle