Things Looking Up in Westchester?

In this week’s edition of the Westchester County Business Journal, I reported on the business environment in response to the bubble of economic uncertainty that is currently overwhelming global markets (see here for the article).

Here is my take on where Westchester stands relative to those global concerns:

1) College degrees are abundant in Westchester, giving the county’s workforce a much better outlook than you see on a national scale. The county’s fastest-growth industries include biotech, healthcare, and professional services – all areas that require at least a college degree. That in a nutshell is why the county’s unemployment rate is significantly better than both the statewide and national rates.

2) Fortune 500 companies are thriving for the most part, with revenues much higher than what has been seen over the past several years. The high concentration of such companies that have employees and operations in Westchester puts the county in a strong position going forward.

3) No one has a solution to the real estate market – no one. In all of the conversations that I had leading up to the article mentioned above, not one analyst had a definitive answer on how to jump-start real estate sales in Westchester. The answer lies somewhere in the ability of county businesses to begin hiring and to lift wage freezes and in the county’s ability to attract new businesses, but if there is anything to be scared of, it is the fragility of the county’s real estate market.

4) Small business confidence is decreased, but not entirely diminished in light of the economic developments of the past month. The article makes mention of an informal gathering of local executives who all cited the slow pace of GDP growth as being a major factor in their budgeting process for the next year. The take-away from this is that while confidence is down, no one in the business community fears a second recession. There may be slow growth for the next several quarters, but the overwhelming sentiment was that we are not headed for a double-dip.