Yakima Businesses Brace for 2009 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Businesses Brace for 2009

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YAKIMA--Yakima business leaders meet to look back, and look ahead at what's in store for 2009.

At a luncheon at the Clarion Hotel today, people were hopeful for the state and local economy.  Washington is in a much better position than states Michigan or Rhode Island.  Even if there is a local economic slowdown, Yakima could still have a relatively good year.

Economist John Mitchell headlined today's meeting.  He said his goal was to show people what led to this recession, and what's in store for the upcoming year.

"I think the economy will bottom out, probably in the second half of 2009," Mitchell said.  "We're working through this thing.  The fall in oil prices will help."

The Yakima Valley is not immune to national struggles.  A strong agricultural base and continued building has Yakima in pretty good shape.

"Yakima's been breaking its own records [for construction activity] for 3 years running," Economic and Community Development Director Michael Morales said.

Most of the construction is commercial building.  That's much stronger than residential right now.  But, Mitchell said even the housing market's starting to look up.

"There are glimmers of rebound in that sector, and that's gonna be very important."

The new year brings some big questions:  how will the relationship between the government and bailed-out companies work?  What will the next federal stimulus package look like?

Regardless of the answers, Mitchell said there's no quick fix.

"We're talking about a 14 trillion dollar system," he said.  "It does not turn around on a dime."

But local leaders seem to understand that.

"It's going to be difficult times, but I think we're going to move forward," Jadean Corporn said.

"Even a slowdown in 2009 is probably still going to be above where we were 4-5 years ago," Morales said.