That was among messages passed on to members of the Davis Unified Economic Development group, Tuesday by Darin Mellott, senior research analyst with CB Richard Ellis in Salt Lake City.
“If there is one issue that is bothering me at night, it’s what is going on in Europe,” he said.
“It matters a lot. While direct exposure for the U.S. is fairly minimal (with Greece), there are other European countries, such as France, that have a big tie to Greece and the U.S. (financial markets),” Mellott said.
“It filters back. The danger is the financial link, and capital markets are affected,” he said.
Three-quarters of world trade financial operations goes through Europe, for example, Mellott said, noting that “China’s economy has even slowed down” due to the problems in the “Old World.”
“It’s a small world. What is going on in Athens affects Layton, Utah,” he said.
Mellott doesn’t see a Lehman Brothers-type meltdown, at least for now. However, he said “it looks like there will be another issue with the U.S. debt ceiling. That will come up in the fall. It’s very destabilizing to events.”
He pointed to positive issues happening in Utah, calling the absorption of office and industrial properties over five years “impressive.”
“Utah County’s technology center has grown by 11 percent in the last year, 8 1/2 times the national average,” Mellott said.
“Unemployment will likely not get to pre-recession levels,” predicted Mark Bouchard, CB Richard Ellis senior managing director.
“American corporations have learned how to become more efficient, make use of technology (while using smaller staffs),” he said.
“Unemployment stands at under 5 percent for those with college degrees or higher, but at 13 percent for those without,” Bouchard said.
“We need to work at how we can get the state’s populace more educated,” he said “The Governor has set a goal of having 66 percent of students either graduated from a college or university or an ATC (applied technology college) by 2020.
“It will be difficult to get major companies to move here without that,” Bouchard said.
“It isn’t a real estate transaction anymore” that will likely draw a firm, he said. Instead, company officials are asking, “Where is my workforce going to come from in the next 10 years?”
“There is a wealth of information for site selectors to understand where we are” educationally and otherwise, he said.
“The greater issue is output at the university and ATC level. In those areas, we are starting to see our state decline. My generation is actually more educated than that of my children,” Bouchard said.
“That is a dangerous shift in Utah and the U.S.,” he said.