By J. Mac Holladay, Market Street founder and CEO.
Well, it is over. What a ride it was. There is one word that typifies the economy – uncertainty. As Thomas Freidman predicted in February of 2009, this recession would be like none other we have ever experienced. While many parts of the country, including the South, are still struggling with high unemployment and lower per capita incomes, there are few signs of progress ahead. Perhaps the most notable is the rise of the Consumer Confidence Index of 10 points reported earlier this week. That index reflects how people feel and how they see their own prospects. While it remains well below its peak, this is the biggest positive jump in several years.
Our project work in 2011 has taken us from coast to coast. The differences are dramatic from the solid economic performance of Des Moines to the major difficulties facing Birmingham. Our home town of Atlanta has suffered over 200,000 net job losses and the outlook is very weak going forward. Each place has its own story to tell. After all these years and working in over 150 communities in 30 states, I can tell you one thing for sure. Every place is different. Even the county or city next door may have a different culture and economic basis. There are no quick fixes or cookie cutter answers. Each place requires its own strategy and focus.
Market Street has had another fine year because of our quality staff that works extremely hard. This is the best team of people, all 12 of them, that we have ever had. My three partners in the firm, Ellen Cutter, our Director of Research, Alex Pearlstein, our Director of Projects, and Kathy Young, our Director of Operations, have all stepped up as owners and taken on more responsibility. Our book of business in 2012 is very strong, and we look forward to working together for years to come.
There were many milestones in 2011. One of the losses we all suffered was the death of Steve Jobs. He was a gifted and difficult man who impacted everyone in business and in life. He had many human faults, but had a genius that few can even imagine. I have purchased (but not read as yet) his biography written by Walter Issacson. The long time Fortune writer Brent Schender, who wrote about Jobs for 20 + years, ended his article with these words; “Yes, he was larger than life, but life deserted him. In other words, he was as human as they come.” We will not see another like him.
2012 is almost here. We have to face it and know that it will be different. That is the challenge and the opportunity. I look forward to it.