Confidence in the greater Grand Rapids economy will near 60 percent for 2011, according to an annual survey by Grand Valley State University economist Hari Singh.

The confidence index for the past two years was approximately 49 percent, below the 50 percent benchmark. In November 2010, the confidence index increased to 55.26 percent; it is projected to be higher than 59 percent for 2011.

“Although we are beginning to come out of the Great Recession, expectations are still depressed, but the overall outlook is beginning to take a positive turn,” Singh said. “There is a palpable increase in the regional confidence for the next year. The regional confidence has picked up its pace for the long consolidation process.”

Singh, a professor in the economics department in Grand Valley’s Seidman College of Business, unveiled his annual economic forecast for the region Wednesday. The survey includes business leaders from Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties. The survey was conducted in November 2010 across sectors. Respondents used a scale from zero percent (no confidence at all) to 100 percent (complete confidence).

According to the survey, employment is expected to rebound with an increase of 2.3 percent in 2011. Approximately 60 percent of respondents indicated they will hire in 2011. Overall, nominal sales are expected to grow by 2.5 percent and exports continue to be a bright spot with expected growth at 9 percent.

“West Michigan will continue to find a foothold by diversifying away from manufacturing into specialized services such as health care,  professional services and education,” Singh said. “The state needs to ensure that it will create a highly qualified work force for the future by investing more resources in education. Besides health care and homeland security, state policies need to promote more renewable/alternative energy options within the state.”


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