2008 Business Outlook

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Perspectives from Gwinnett Business Leaders

by Melissa Booraem

When it comes to business and the economy, we”d all love to have a crystal ball. Whether you”re a small business person serving customers in the heart of Gwinnett or have a life and livelihood tied to Wall Street, the business outlook for the coming year affects you in big way.

We surveyed a host of Gwinnett business leaders and officials to learn what they see on the horizon for 2008. From those involved directly in local retail trade to those whose business interests span the seas, as well a few area government officials, our leaders were eager to tell us about what”s happening in their world – and ours.

There”s no shortage of special circumstances in this year”s economic forecasts. Our participants considered both the impact of Georgia”s drought and the national mortgage meltdown on our local economy – and assessed the many individual factors that affect their own enterprises.

There was also no shortage of opinions! We heard good news, cautious optimism and some voices of concern, but overall, we found Gwinnett”s business community to be largely positive. To be sure, we asked them all – doctors, accountants, retailers, commercial builders, elected officials, global businessmen and women, bankers, artists and even Gwinnett County”s own director of economic analysis.

So get comfortable, grab a cup of coffee and get prepared for 2008, as Gwinnett businesses leaders give us their two cents worth!

John Fleischmann, campus executive officer,
GA Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Lack of medical professionals opens doors for medical schools in Georgia

"Our sister medical schools in Georgia are all increasing their enrollment levels to address the critical need for physicians throughout the state," Fleischmann says. "Basically, in Georgia and throughout the South, the need for physicians and other health care professionals is at a critical level. This unfortunate situation actually creates a multiplicity of opportunities for established and newly created medical schools to serve the state and region."

"At our campus, we will continue to assess areas where our ability to serve the state of Georgia is complemented by the needs of the state and of the region."

Terri Jondahl, CEO, CAB Incorporated

Companies are more involved internationally than most are aware

Jondahl says she expects some economic weakness in 2008, but businesses seeking to sell overseas will benefit from the falling U.S. dollar. "All of us are far more engaged globally than we routinely think about. If you are providing products or services to a company like CAB, then you are only one step removed from being personally involved internationally… Engaging in international business isn”t just done by large companies. There are opportunities for everyone to expand into the “global backyard.”"

She believes the state has serious issues it needs to address to keep businesses coming here. "I strongly believe that Georgia is going to suffer serious setbacks at attracting major new industries unless we address our long-term water needs. In business, we have back-up plans to back-up plans. I expect the same from government on issues as critical as water."

Anthony Rodriguez, producing artistic director, Aurora Theatre Inc.

Economy may look sluggish