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When it comes to the economy, Arizona’s business outlook for 2020 looks good. But how long can it last?
“The economy looks really promising right now,” said Elliott D. Pollack, CEO of Elliott D. Pollack & Company. “It’s late in the game, though. That’s good for economic consulting and it’s good for real estate.”
Consumer spending is up and economic growth in Arizona and the rest of the U.S. is on the rise, but investor caution is one sign pointing to a potential recession in 2020, global economist Bernard Baumohl told Valley business leaders at the annual SRP Economic Forecast.
“There is an undercurrent of alarm in this country that a recession is not only possible, but probable in the next year,” Baumohl said, adding that business-capital investors are not buying at their normal rates and are being more cautious. “We have the trade war, which has fluctuated between escalation and rising tensions, and some moments of cautious optimism.”
Baumohl said the uncertainty about Brexit and other economic factors could push Europe toward recession. Also, it’s unclear if the U.S. will ratify NAFTA 2.0 – the United States-Mexico–Canada Agreement, “which is very important for the state of Arizona.”
While presidential election years generally bring a lot of questions to the business world, Arizona business leaders carry an air of confidence as we embark on the new year.
“2020 will be a renaissance year in Arizona real estate,” said Brian North, CEO and founder of North&Co. “With the strong growth of the housing market for nearly 10 years, low interest rates, and a strong economy, the conversations of pessimism will continue to transition to optimism. Most of us will have all but forgotten the pain of the mega recession of 2008 and 2009, and we will likely lead the country in growth.”
Thankfully, it’s not just the real estate sector that is driving Arizona’s economy into 2020.
IN HEALTHCARE:“In healthcare, cosmetics, and MedTech we are seeing a huge reliance on independent startups as the new research and development labs of the giants,” said Ben Smith, CEO of Xcellerate Biomedical Technologies. “Gone are the days of mass funding big corporate R&D. Instead they are shifting dollars to fund managers to seek out new and innovative platforms, treatments and research. You can see more conferences and trade shows geared to highlight startups and share their data, as well as private equity and venture capital firms looking farther down the revenue stream to even now consider pre-revenue companies for potential minor stakes. 2020 on will be an exciting time to be in the research phase for many startups.”
IN LAW:“Exceeding client expectations while assisting clients with managing their legal spend will continue to be critical,” said Coree Neumeyer, parter at Quarles & Brady. “As such, smart firms — including ours — will be continuously researching, investing in and leveraging emerging technologies to increase efficiency, improve client communication, and provide a more client-personalized service. Firms like these will be well-positioned for significant growth in 2020 and beyond.”
IN TECHNOLOGY:“One trend that will have the biggest impact in intellectual property protection in 2020 and beyond is the boom in artificial intelligence (AI),” said Cindy Villanueva, intellectual property partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie. “With AI becoming ever more widespread, it is revolutionizing every aspect of life and work, including how AI is protected under intellectual property law. AI has widespread repercussions in regards to how innovations created by AI will be, or can be, protected, including issues related to authorship and ethical concerns.”
“This is the best job market we’ve seen in over 20 years and Arizona is leading the way,” said Travis Laird, regional vice president for Robert Half. “During this cycle, it has been tremendous to see many organizations relocating to Arizona and the talented professionals who have followed. We’re also seeing worker confidence at its peak.”
Laird said the historically low unemployment rate is giving local workers increased confidence to explore career moves and managers are taking notice, moving faster than ever to attract and retain top talent.
“Compared with other markets, we still have room to see unemployment decline and wage growth accelerate,” Laird said. “Look for both to continue to happen through 2020.”
In terms of the hottest sectors for growth in 2020, Laird said to watch healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, technology and bioscience industries.
“These industries are fueling job growth and pulling in a talented, innovative workforce,” Laird said. “To land this top talent, companies will need to present more attractive offers in the way of compensation, and attractive perks and incentives such as remote possibilities and benefits in order to compete in this competitive market.”
Baumohl cautioned that some signs of optimism can be misread – including rapid growth, low unemployment, consumer spending. He said it’s better to pay attention to businesses’ reluctance to invest as a symptom of an economy that appears about to peak and then plunge.
“We are really at a pivotal moment in U.S. economic history,” Baumohl said. “We’re now well into our 11th year of uninterrupted economic growth, and we have never seen that before. It’s absolutely unprecedented. The average number of years an economy usually experiences uninterrupted growth is less than five before it gets in trouble again.”
Ben SmithBusiness outlook for healthcare
The one thing that never changes about healthcare is that there are constant changes.
“This is the most exciting and challenging time in healthcare, perhaps ever,” says David A. Dexter, president and CEO of Sonora Quest Laboratories. “Leaders have the power to reshape and significantly improve the industry.”
There are new innovations to care and new treatments being developed that change patients’ outcomes. But one thing that healthcare leaders have not been able to reshape is the upward trajectory of healthcare costs, which experts say will continue throughout 2020. PwC’s Heal
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