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Lake County Development Council Economic Forum

We started off the day, October 1st, at the "16th Annual Lake County Development Council Economic Forum, 2014" which was held at the Holiday Inn/La Malfa on Heisley Road in Mentor. What was said there, though, really pertained to the whole country, not just to Lake County. The first speaker was Mr. Jason Witmer, founding partner of the Cleveland Research Company (CRC) where he serves as the President of Market Research. He more than fulfilled this description in the program notes, "he will provide insights on trends in specific industries including retail, industrial, technology, health care and commerce."

The second speaker was Mr. Michael Bryan who is a Vice President and Senior Economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. According to the program, "he is a highly regarded speaker on the complexities of the national economy" as well as a native of Lake County. He has participated in this program for 15 out of 16 years.

It would be tough to summarize the presentations because they were so detailed but basically the message that we came away with was that the economy could be better but it is picking up. Here are a few of the interesting things that were said:

***Mr. Witmer said that U.S. births have been going up for 2 quarters and that this was a good sign.

***Mr. Bryan said that we can expect a 3% growth rate for next year instead of a 2% but this has been predicted for the last several years.

***Mr. Witmer said that due to the harsh winter of 2013-2014 a lot of money was spent on car repairs. Also the winter made things get off to a sluggish start but the economy picked up over the summer.

***Mr. Bryan said that if Europe continues to just slug along, he termed it "slow Europe", it would take half a point off U.S. growth rate.

***There were a lot of high school students here with their teachers today and Mr. Bryan told them from the podium that "all of your textbooks are wrong" in terms of monetary policy and got a laugh.

***When discussing what the Federal Reserve could actually do to regarding the economy. Mr. Bryan showed a clip from the Little Rascals showing Spanky tossing money out of a window. It signified that they could create more money.

***Mr. Bryan admitted that employment statistics aren't to be trusted all of the way because they often do not take into account the number of workers who are only working part-time and those who have simply given up on the job search. He also said that the the Fed knows the exact day when public assistance checks will arrive and that there is an upsurge of spending after they do.

***in answer to a question about investing, Mr. Witmer indicated that one is better to put their money into mutual funds and allow it to accumulate rather than going for any "cute" investment schemes.

When the program started Mr. Kevin Lynch, President of the Lake County Development Council, said that when this forum first started 16 years ago only 75 people participated but today there were 350-400 people there.

We asked shook hands with a gentleman who said, after he learned that we are an immigration law firm, that while we move people into the country he is involved with moving people out of the country because his son works for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Louisiana. We had a good laugh.

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