Business Matters

Schar School’s Fuller, Gov. Northam deliver economic forecast

As many in the audience of nearly 600 regional business leaders already knew, 2018 was a pretty good year for the Washington, D.C., regional economy. But the business community’s leadership was attending the 27th Annual Economic Conference Thursday morning at the Tysons Hilton Hotel to hear what they didn’t know, and Schar School of Policy and Government professor Stephen Fuller didn’t hold back.

“2019 will not be as good as 2018,” he said flatly, and for the next 45 minutes Fuller, director of the Schar School’s Stephen S. Fuller Institute for Research on the Washington Region’s Economic Future, made his case, citing global and domestic uncertainty about everything from Brexit and China to the Mueller report and a looming partial government shutdown.

But there was good news amid the tepid. Overall, Fuller said, the Washington region’s economy is expected to do better than the nation’s (unless there’s a recession; see: uncertainty), and in the next 12 years, the area’s professional and business services industries and construction firms will see considerable growth, accounting for nearly 75 percent of gains across all sectors.

Fuller’s presentation is here.

Fuller was followed on stage by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D), who admonished the federal government for putting 65,000 Virginians out of work during the partial shutdown. The effects of the lost investments and missed paychecks damaged the state’s economy as well as threatened the livelihoods of those living paycheck to paycheck, he said.

In a reference to new businesses coming to the Commonwealth, including Amazon’s second headquarters to Arlington, Northam said officials need to “identify the jobs of the 21st century” and work with the education system to assure companies that adequately trained workers are available. In that, he recognized George Mason University and Mason president, Ángel Cabrera, who delivered the conference’s opening remarks, “for all they have done to train talent in Virginia and keep it in Virginia.”

The conference was sponsored by Mason, the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, United Bank, and the Washington Business Journal.