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Experts forecast strong economy in 2017, but recession may be looming

Daniel Boothe

Real Estate Giant Colliers International held their annual West Michigan economic and commercial real estate forecast for 2017 on Thursday at the DeVos Place  downtown, as experts predicted that continued economic success in West Michigan will fuel new investment in office, retail and multifamily sectors. 

However, keynote speaker and economist Paul Isley of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University says while 2017 looks strong, a recession could be coming our way.

“Well, the probability really starts building as we reach the end of 2018, and we reach a really high probability by the time we reach the end of 2020," Isley said. "That’s not a guarantee, but right now all things are pointing to us seeing a recession sometime in those two years.”

In order to keep the recession at bay, Colliers International Senior Vice President Mike Murray says one of the biggest challenges will be finding qualified workers in West Michigan as businesses expand in 2017.  

“Job growth is essential but for job growth we need that skilled laborers, we have seen a continued population growth since 2014 of people moving, from out of state into Western Michigan and we need to see that to continue to help these businesses in our market,” Murray said. 

This week city officials broke ground on Diamond Place, a $42 million development on Grand Rapids Michigan Street Corridor, and 20 Monroe Live a new $11 million dollar concert venue downtown opens next week. Isley said, expect to see Grand Rapids developments continue but expect things to slow down.

“There is a lot of things that will continue to be built into the next year, but you’ll see fewer things planned out. So, that’s is a two staged story, I mean, you are still going to see a lot of cranes in Grand Rapids,” he said.    

Isley said the biggest unknown is ultimately what affect President Donald Trump will have on the economy. 

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