2011 Trends: Economist: ‘A lot of little green shoots springing up’

Experts see improved 2011 for investment; 3.5 percent GDP growth

NORTH BAY – While some dark clouds remain on the economic horizon, North Bay economists and business climate watchers are increasingly bullish about the 2011 regional forecast.

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“We are seeing real change.  Things are turning around and the worst appears to be over,” said Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB). “While some firms are still cutting payrolls, others are hiring – not huge numbers yet and it’s not a roaring recovery – but there are fewer layoffs and rising incomes. At the same time, costs of doing business are dropping and some firms are doing better than they have in years despite Sonoma County’s 10 percent unemployment rate.”

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Christopher F. Thornberg, principal and founder of Beacon Economics, with offices in Marin County and Southern California, also foresees better times ahead as the economy starts to warm at the national level.

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