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January 23, 2017   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Economic Outlook forecast predicts bright economy for…

Economic Outlook forecast predicts bright economy for 2017 and beyond

Matt Weeks

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Terry College of Business
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By Matt Weeks | January 23, 2017

The Athens-area economy will continue an upward trajectory this year and beyond, according to the Georgia Economic Outlook forecast from UGA's Terry College of Business.

Employment in the Classic City will rise by 2.5 percent or about 2,400 jobs in 2017, thanks to companies such as Voxpro and Caterpillar as well as an increase in the budgets of state and local governments.

Other industries, like health care and biotechnology also will be a boon for the Athens area. Athens will benefit from its role as the regional medical service center for northeast Georgia, one that's reinforced by the establishment of a medical school campus at UGA in partnership with Augusta University. A cluster of biotechnology industries with links to UGA is gradually developing critical mass in the Athens metro area, which should boost prospects for additional growth in the life-sciences employment.

The area also will benefit from the trends that will buoy the state as a whole, said Terry College Dean Benjamin C. Ayers.

"Many of the same forces that contributed specifically to Georgia's growth in the past two years will be even stronger in 2017," Ayers said. "First, Georgia has even more projects in its economic development pipeline. Second, Georgia's economy will get more leverage from the housing recovery than the national economy. Third, Georgia's manufacturers will continue to do better than U.S. manufacturers. Fourth, Georgia will see faster population growth."

Thanks to a pro-business political climate that has brought major relocation and expansion projects to the state, Georgia's economy is expected to grow 3.2 percent in 2017, ahead of the nation's 2.6 percent GDP growth rate, Ayers said. He also predicted that nominal personal income will increase 5 percent and non-farm employment will climb 2.1 percent.

The establishment of UGA's College of Engineering will contribute directly to the region's growth through its operating budget, its personnel budget and student spending.

Ayers will deliver the forecast, prepared by the college's Selig Center for Economic Growth, Feb. 1 at the Classic Center. Individual and group tickets, as well as the complete Georgia Economic Outlook forecast, are available for purchase online at

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