July 26, 2017 12:00AM
When Michael Davidsson began studying the local and regional economy more than four years ago, he saw signs of progress in the region.
“The Pittsburg area has great potential for economic growth and development,” Davidsson said in early 2014.
Davidsson, an assistant professor in Pittsburg State’s Kelce College of Business, is the lead researcher and author of the Pittsburg Micropolitan Area Economic Report. In the latest edition is data that proves Davidsson was quite prophetic.
“Local economic development programs and improvement in the national economy in the last couple of years have stimulated the Pittsburg area economy,” the report states.
Davidsson said this week that recent economic data shows “really good news” for the Pittsburg area.
“There are so many good things happening right now,” Davidsson said. “Sales are increasing, wages are increasing and local poverty is decreasing. There has been tremendous investment in the local economy, and that has led to exciting growth and a renewed optimism.”
Davidsson pointed to the increase in small business activity as a clear sign of economic growth.
“In 2016, there were 79 new, active local small businesses,” he said. “What that tells us is that people are seeing a growing economy and are willing to take risks that they may not have taken a few years ago. It shows that people are more optimistic about where things are going and that they have high hopes for the future of our local economy.”
The latest economic report states that overall revenue by private, non-farm industries in the Pittsburg area increased in 2016 to $2.5 billion, an increase of 5.4 percent over 2015 data. Also, the average wage in the area increased nearly 5 percent to $40,530.
“In almost every category we study, things are continuing to improve,” Davidsson said. “The Pittsburg area is growing at a faster rate than southeast Kansas a whole, and that shows recent investment in the community is paying significant dividends.”
Davidsson said that nearly $288 million has been invested in the local community in the past couple of years.
“Several local businesses are expanding, the casino is here and you have Block22 underway,” he said. “Those are just a few examples of how investment in the city is having an impact on the economy. Couple that with an improved national economy, and you’re seeing real progress on many levels. This is an exciting time for the Pittsburg area.”