Our speaker on Tuesday, November 7, will be Melanie Walker. She currently serves as chief executive officer of Tsuchiya Group North America and as president of its five subsidiary companies. This includes TASUS Corporation in Bloomington, established in 1989 as the company’s first operation in North America manufacturing plastic automotive parts. Walker has more than 30 years of management experience, including positions with Schlegel Corporation and Mobil Oil and Chemical.
Her professional affiliations, memberships and board positions have included the Indiana University Board of Trustees, the Indiana Workforce Innovation Council, the Indiana and Bloomington Economic Development Corporations, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana University Credit Union, Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center, Sentry BioPharma Services, the American Heart Walk, the Japan America Society of Indiana, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, Bloomington POPS Orchestra, Old National Bank, the Bloomington Community Foundation, and the Young Presidents Association.
Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University.
The meeting will be in the Frangipani Room of the Indiana Memorial Union at noon.
NOVEMBER 2 PRESENTATION: The annual Kelley School of Business Economic Outlook Forum
Panel: Looks like slow and steady growth next year
Speaking to a full house of Rotarians and members of the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, a panel from IU’s Kelley School of Business predicted that the national, state and local economies will continue to improve next year.
Panelists included professors Jerry Conover, Timothy Slaper, Charles Trzcinka and William Witte. School of Business Associate Dean Philip Powell moderated the discussion in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union. The luncheon meeting was a combined event of all three Bloomington Rotary clubs and the Chamber.
Panelist William Witte predicted slow but steady growth in business investment and continued improvement in both the housing and government sectors, even though consumer spending is likely to decelerate. Moreover, as the unemployment rate falls below the current 4.2 percent, he predicts employers will see the beginnings of a tighter labor market, driving wages up. As for inflation, it will remain low, probably in the 2 percent range. Overall, national economic growth will be about 2.6 percent, thanks in part to reconstruction and new retail sales in the post-hurricane Southern states and islands.
As for the local economy, Conover reported that it continues to slowly expand. While still below 2010 numbers, he sees a healthy local GDP expansion at about 4.5 percent. He said professional business services have now passed manufacturing as a top economic driver, and per capita personal income is now about $36,000 a year, ranking Bloomington eighth among Indiana cities. Housing sales are down slightly, less then 1 percent, and prices have climbed about 6 percent. “Demand (for housing) is outpacing supply,” he said. In 2018, Conover said, Bloomington can expect to see as many as 2,200 new jobs, continued growth in personal income, and a modest increase in population.
Trzcinka, reporting on the financial markets, said the stock market this year has been notable for its lack of volatility – the lowest in history – and its amazing growth – a 21 percent increase in value from a year ago. The stock market appears unmoved by the political dysfunction in Washington, he said. Because economic fundamentals are sound, he sees continued growth in earnings and little inflation. But there are risks. He noted that the ratio between the price of stock to company earnings is unusually high at 17.9 percent, indicating stocks may be overvalued.
Slaper said that Indiana is running in the middle of the pack as states recover from the Great Recession. He said the state should expect a growth in GDP at about 2.8 percent next year. Much of that comes from Indiana’s integration into the international economy. He said that 10 percent of GDP in Indiana comes from exporting goods to foreign countries, especially to trading partners Canada and Mexico. Slaper said that Indiana’s youthful population is a plus for employers looking for future workers, but that post-secondary educational attainment in Indiana is “ugly.” Even worse are the losses to the economy from opioid addiction. The cost of opioid addiction to the economy in lost productivity and the expense of human services amounts to about $1.5 billion a year in Indiana. He said as many of 18,000 Hoosiers are already lost to the labor force because of opioids, and that deaths from overdoses have increased a staggering 52 percent over one year.
Panelists seemed to agree that many challenges and risks facing the economy are imponderable, such as events in the Middle East and North Korea, the uncertainly about tax reform legislation, and leadership changes at the Federal Reserve. These things may or may not make a difference. In the meantime, however, the American economy seems to be ignoring Washington and world politics and just moving ahead, at least for now.
Our November 2 Meeting
President Mike Baker opened the joint meeting for the Business Outlook Forum. Owen Johnson led the pledge and reflected on the 100-year history of interaction and cooperation between Rotary and Chamber of Commerce leaders.
Jon Dilts, Reporter
Charlie Osborne, Photographer