Cautious optimism here

Cautious optimism here

June 24th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Chattanoogans generally are enterprising and optimistic. We are fortunate, moreover, that our local economy and our recent job growth have been better than those in many other communities around the country.

So it was appropriate that, as several hundred local people gathered at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Mayors' Business & Industry Appreciation Breakfast at The Chattanoogan Hotel on Thursday, there was a definite note of hopefulness.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said we have seen business and industry developments that have made ours the "most transformed city in America," and one of the fastest growing economically.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger noted that progress is occurring because we are working together, and he applauded the job-producing companies in our community.

The guest speaker at the breakfast was Ethan Harris, who is the head of North America Economics for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Harris said he sees our nation having an "incredibly confident environment" and much economic progress "moving in the right direction in the next two years."

We are still "in the middle" of some housing problems, he noted, and there are problems of expensive government entitlements and heavy defense spending.

But he said he could see President Barack Obama "dangling" the possibility of a tax cut, which - if it becomes real - should boost our economy. Lamentably, the president also has been seeking large tax increases on those he deems "rich."

In any event, our community's prospects for growing business and industry - the new Volkswagen plant, for one example - justify a positive outlook.

Of course, that positive view needs to be grounded in reality, energized by intelligent enterprise and fueled by hard work.

Hundreds of Chattanoogans, involved in varied activities, displayed the positive attitude at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Now we look forward to our residents, and our business and political leaders, working together to make our dynamic aspirations become reality.