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VOL. 129 | NO. 91 | Friday, May 9, 2014

Memphis Economic Indicator Presents Latest Snapshot

By Andy Meek

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Q2 2014
Memphis Economic

On the qualitative side of the latest Memphis Economic Indicator, a survey measuring general business sentiment produced jointly by The Daily News and Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, respondents tended to put Memphis at a kind of inflection point at the moment.

Along with the indicator’s analysis of fact sets and expectations about economic trends, many of the respondents noted they see important groundwork being laid now that will influence the local economy eventually in a big way.

Input from participants about those factors also complemented a set of questions for which answers were given based on a set scale. Those questions asked participants to consider the coming quarter and whether they expect their businesses to add staff, increase revenue, widen profit margins, see expenses rise, and whether they think the overall economic position of both their company and Memphis as a whole will improve.

Regarding the open-ended question about the economy, survey participant Jeanne Arthur said she sees Memphis steadily embracing quality-of-life amenities that go a long way toward improving the city.

“I’m positive that the Greenways along the Wolf connecting to the Greenline and the Hampline will connect and improve neighborhoods and the quality of life for (everyone) living there,” said Arthur, a Realtor in Crye-Leike’s East Memphis office. “Also the Crosstown initiative, the Overton Park Conservancy, the Brewery initiative, the Harahan Project, the Wolf River Boulevard Connector, Shelby Farms changes, and (other) beautification efforts are helping redefine what we do, how we do it and where we live.

“Projects like these change neighborhoods, change minds and change cities.”

Bill Ferguson, a founder of Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects, also participated in the survey. In response to the open-ended question about what local endeavors are having the biggest impact in the economy, he pointed to efforts to attract and retain younger workers and citizens through things such as denser communities and more public spaces.

Among the more data-specific findings in the latest survey, confidence appears to be returning among respondents related to the area’s logistics and distribution industry. Moreover, that confidence appears to be based on genuine upswings in activity, which, given the industry’s large influence on the region, could prove a consequential sentiment.

The full results of the survey are available at memphiseconomicindicator.com.

Rounding out the latest snapshot of the local economy, The Daily News’ sister company, Chandler Reports, also has compiled a snapshot of a variety of metrics that on balance show the local economy has room for improvement.

In the first quarter, for example, Shelby County recorded 3,270 home sales, down 3 percent from the 3,383 homes sold in the first three months of 2013.

Also according to Chandler, local banks and mortgage lenders made 1,617 purchase mortgages during the first quarter, basically flat compared with the 1,624 mortgages during first quarter 2013. And builders filed 187 permits in Shelby County in the first quarter, compared with 218 permits in first quarter 2013.

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