The Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce’s Council of Economic Advisors convened for the final time this year on Wednesday, November 28th. Leaders from nearly two dozen market segments shared insights on their respective industries and gave their outlook for 2019.
Karen Gilmore, Vice President and Regional Executive, at the Miami Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta was on hand to hear those insights while also giving her thoughts on what to look out for in the coming year. Gilmore says there will be plenty of new faces behind policy decisions and there’s growing belief that we will see at least one more rate hike before the end of 2018.
Attention quickly turned to retail during this fourth quarter meeting, as the holiday shopping season ramps up. Melissa Milroy, Senior Marketing Manager at The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale, says October figures were down this year but there’s been a significant bounce back in November. This month’s activity at the Fort Lauderdale mall is leading to a positive outlook for December.
Some concerns did come to the forefront during the meeting, especially from council members representing the construction and manufacturing industries. As Bill Feinberg put it, Owner of Allied Kitchen and Bath, labor costs are “driving through the roof” in his line of work. His sentiment of encountering difficulty in finding skilled labor and then retaining talented employees was echoed by several other members in the room.
Rising costs were also a topic of conversation, when it came to real estate development. Rocco Ferrera, Chief Investment Officer at Stiles Corporation, says projects are still getting off the ground but costs are increasing, partly due to rising labor costs and also tariffs. Ferrera also says heavy focus has been put on the “five F’s” in developing retail space: frugal, fashion, fun, fitness and furniture.
At the end of the meeting, council members were polled on some critical questions posed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Here’s a look at the results of those voting in the room.