Tom Hutton, 262-3439

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO — Southern Colorado’s economy is slowly recovering from a short recession, according to a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs economist.

Fred Crowley, senior economist, College of Business and a principal in the annual Southern Colorado Economic Forum, believes the Colorado Springs economy “bottomed” last December and January and that a slow recovery is underway.

“I remain concerned about a weak national economy as well as the affect the drought and fires will have on tourism,” Crowley said. “But there are indicators that our economy is on the upturn.”

Specifically, Crowley points to an upsurge in building permits in Colorado Springs during April and May and a prediction that 4,200-4,400 housing units will be built in 2002.

Additionally, Crowley noted that an Information Technology Index indicates that the local high-tech sector is poised for recovery, though he refused to predict when such a recovery for battered technology industries will occur.

Other positive factors for the local economy included

– A 1.5 percent increase in capacity utilization

– A 9.1 percent increase in consumer sentiment

– A 1.9 percent increase in industrial production

– A 15.8 percent increase in the purchasing manager’s index and a 2.9 percent decrease in the inventory/sales ratio. The two factors point to increased business orders as inventories dwindle.

Crowley believes Colorado and the Pikes Peak region will lag the national economic recovery because of the area’s dominance of high-technology and telecommunications industries. Those two industrial sectors are expected to recover more slowly than many industries. Additionally, national coverage of the state’s forest fires and restrictions on visits to national forests could affect tourism and further slow the state’s recovery.

As part of the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, conducted every October, Crowley and Tom Zwirlein, professor, College of Business, will provide quarterly updates and estimates on the area’s economy. The quarterly updates will be published in April, July and January and will supplement the annual October forum.

CU-Colorado Springs, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in northeast Colorado Springs, is the fastest growing university in Colorado and one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The university offers 25 bachelor’s degrees, 17 master’s and two doctoral degrees. The campus enrolls about 7,000 students annually.