Chamber Welcomes Back Dr. Kuehl

Lifeline Foods is a manufacturer located off of 11th Street in St. Joseph.

The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce hosted the Virtual Economic Development Summit on Thursday with a familiar face as guest speaker, Dr. Chris Kuehl.

Kuehl is a chief economist for several national and international organizations including the National Association of Credit Management and Industrial Heating Equipment Association.

Kuehl shared a slideshow of different charts and key points that forecast a brighter U.S. economy for 2021. He researched topics such as the impact of the recent election, shipment slowdown, inflation, the unemployment rate, the national debt and much more.

In terms of the election, he mentioned that a divided government is a preference of business and investment.

“When you don’t have a dominant situation where you have one party in control of the Congress and the White House, it’s hard to get big initiatives passed,” Kuehl said. “When you’ve got big initiatives being rolled out, there’s a lot of uncertainty and the one thing that business doesn’t like is uncertainty.”

According to another chart, he says the oil sector is going to be “pretty stable.” The current price per barrel of oil according to the West Texas Intermediate spot price is around $40 per barrel. The STEO forecast doesn’t see that price being much higher than the NYMEX futures price projects in 2021, which is still around the $40 per barrel mark.

One other aspect of the economic future Kuehl could see going a different direction, aside from the typical V-shape increase he forecasts in most of the research graphs, is the overall economic outlook of the U.S. Kuehl said one factor could decide how that outlook could be affected going forward.

“The one factor that is driving that blue line would be a second shutdown,” Kuehl said.

CEO of the Chamber, Pat Lilly, welcomed guests who tuned in for the summit online. While he recognized familiar businesses such as Nestle and Boehringer Ingelheim’s further expansion of their business, he also welcomed two industries to the St. Joseph community: O’Neal Steel, a company that provides steel for fabricating needs, and Vertical Enterprise, a dispensary for the medical marijuana business that is soon to come.

VP of economic development for the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce Brad Lau said the Chamber hopes to see a prosperous year coming for the city.

“We’ve had close to $90 million in new capital investment so far this year. From the standpoint of a local economy and our local businesses, we’re optimistic going into 2021,” Lau said.

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