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Editor's Note: Indicators Mixed, But Still Optimistic

June/July 10
Despite fears of economic trouble in Europe and a slower than expected U.S. economic rebound during the first quarter of 2010, signs point to better economic times ahead.

At the end of June, the Business Roundtable - an association of CEOs of large U.S. firms - said that 39 percent of the chief executives the association had surveyed plan to increase hiring in the latter half of this year. This is the largest gain since 2007. And 79 percent of the CEOs surveyed by the Roundtable said they expect sales to rise in the second half of 2010 - the highest percentage since the second quarter of 2006.

Ivan Seidenberg, the CEO of Verizon Communications and chair of the Business Roundtable, noted that although chief executives displayed optimism, they were still concerned about new taxes and regulations that could dampen growth. Interestingly, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has just issued a comprehensive strategy for U.S. manufacturing that calls for policy action for corporate tax reduction, tort reform, and easing of regulatory burdens.

Manufacturing growth is vital to the U.S. economic recovery and, fortunately, manufacturing has shown renewed strength. The Institute for Supply Management logged nearly a year of expansion in the sector, although the pace of growth did recently slow. Norbert J. Ore, chair of ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, noted, "We are now 11 months into the manufacturing recovery, and given the robust nature of recent growth, it is not surprising that we would see a slower rate of growth at this time. The sector appears to be solidly entrenched in the recovery."

This month, Area Development honors those states that were able to secure new manufacturing and other jobs in the face of tough economic times. We present our Gold and Silver Shovel Awards to 11 state economic development agencies that secured high-value investment and job-creating projects for their communities. We also look at what is needed to prepare workers for our ever-changing high-tech world and explain why labor trumps other factors in the location decision.

Although the economy has a long way to go to in terms reaching of pre-recession growth levels, current economic news is far from dismal. Further, the type of activity indicated by our Shovel Award-winning states is a good indication of more growth to come.

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