• Jeff Fox: Improve your business with chamber program

  • The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce is offering a free program of speakers geared toward business and professional development.

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  • The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce is offering a free program of speakers geared toward business and professional development.
    The chamber says it’s the kind of thing members have been asking for.
    “We’ve got some great speakers and topics,” board Chair Donna Best said at the group’s December luncheon.
    The program, Power Hour, will be on the fourth Tuesday of the month. It’s from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District training facility at 4715 West U.S. 40.
    It kicks off with “FLIP Out – Infectious Celebration,” which is presented by Todd Long of Leadership Innovations, on Jan. 22.
    On Feb. 26, it’s “Uncovering the Secret Weapon of Growth,” presented by Debra Kunz of the DKK Group.
    Sign up at http://business.bluespringschamber.com/ or call the chamber at 816-229-8558.
    Jobs a concern
    I keep a close eye on the monthly postings by the Creighton Economic Forecasting Group, which tracks Midwest and state-by-state economic indicators based on surveys of purchasing managers at manufacturers.
    The Creighton University professor who runs the program, Ernie Goss, has expressed a good deal of concern about inflation – which hasn’t showed up yet although experts saying rising food prices are coming in 2013. But Goss also points out some things that others might overlook.
    On Wednesday, for example, the Creighton Group posted figures for December suggesting a slightly declining economy in the months ahead. Missouri came in with a business conditions index of 46.8, down from 47.2 in November (anything below 50 suggests a contracting economy). That number is derived from measures of new orders, production, inventories, delivery lead time and employment. The Midwest number overall rose slightly to 49.5 but has been in slightly negative territory for half a year.
    Here’s the uncomfortable thing Goss points out. Yes, Missouri’s unemployement rate is below the national average, but it’s not for healthy reasons. The state’s labor force has shrunk by 41,000 in the last year. Since the beginning of the current slow recovery in mid-2009, the state has lost 6,000 manufacturing jobs. (The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center suggests a more stable labor force hovering right around 3 million people.) Goss sees the same leaving-the-job-market trend in other Midwestern states.
    Creighton’s survey suggests slight job losses – in and out of manufacturing – in the first half of 2013 for the state.
    Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or 816-350-6313. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_Fox.

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