Douglas’ economy looking betterBy Trisha Maldonado
The Cochise College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) held its 17th annual Douglas Economic Outlook luncheon on Sept. 21, at the Cochise College campus.
An estimated 75 people attended the event that provided an overview of the national, state, and local economy with a focus on the economy of Douglas.
Director of Cochise College SBDC, Mark Schmitt welcomed guest speakers Dr. Robert Carreira, Director of the Center for Economic Research and Douglas City Manager, Carlos De La Torre.
Carreira discussed the economic outlook for the state, county, and city of Douglas.
The key points he discussed were the unemployment rate, retail sales tax, restaurant and bar receipts, home sales and median home prices in Douglas.
Carreira said the unemployment rate in Douglas as of May 2012 was 12.4 percent, down from its peak of 13.8 percent in April of 2011.
Retail sales tax revenue in Douglas was up 6.3 percent in 2011 following declines of 3.6 percent in 2009 and 2.3 percent in 2010.
Restaurant and bar receipts in Douglas were up 11.8 percent after adjusting for inflation.
Home sales are down 6.4 percent in 2011, following a 19 percent increase in 2010.
The median home price was down in four of five years from 2007 through 2011. He said the median price in the first quarter of 2012 was down 42.5 percent from its peak in 2009.
Foreclosed homes in Douglas have accounted for 53.4 percent of all sales in 2011, up from 38.3 percent in 2010. Foreclosures dropped to 45.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
Carreira feels that Douglas is moving in the right direction, but slowly. Our local retail sales shows promise but hospitality continues to struggle.
Defense spending poses a threat due to countywide cuts. Douglas’ labor market shows a slow improvement. Both construction and home sales in Douglas are picking up.
De La Torre discussed the progress of the City of Douglas with the new mayor and council. The most significant project in Douglas will be moving forward on building a new commercial port of entry through Private-Public-Partnerships.
He stressed the importance of the City of Douglas building partnerships with Cochise College, the county and Douglas Unified School Districts, in making Douglas a better place to live, work and play.
“Although there are positive indications in our economy, the city remains cautious since there are many uncertainties in the national and world economies that may also affect us.” said the City Manager. “As the economy gets better, as we hope it will soon, the city expects to foster more private investments and increase public services as needed and as the city is able to do so.”