Annual Economic Outlook Conference at ACU expands to showcase economic trends, promote regional economic growth

For Immediate Release
Jan. 11, 2000

The economic outlook for Abilene, Taylor County and the nation will be put into perspective for 2000 and the next few years at the 2000 Economic Outlook Conference at Abilene Christian University's Teague Special Events Center Jan. 25, plus a special pre-session will offer insights to diversifying the Texas Midwest's regional economy.

At a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Dr. Nancy Wentzler, director of the Economic Analysis Division of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, will provide a national economic forecast. Also, Abilene's Ray Ferguson, CPA, CFP, a partner of Condley & Co., will provide an economic analysis for the Taylor County area.

"Wentzler's responsibilities keep her in touch with the most current trends in areas such as banking, international and national markets and strategic risks," said Dr. Gary McCaleb, executive director of ACU's Center for Building Community. "She is considered one of the nation's most effective communicators on economic issues and the implications on the local level."

Ferguson is a long-time Abilene businessman and former member of Abilene's City Council who has researched the local and area economy with Condley & Company.

McCaleb said Ferguson is well qualified to offer unique insights into the economic fluctuations of this area.

Attendees will receive bound documents outlining historic, current and projected economic fluctuations of the Taylor County region.

Tickets for the luncheon are $20 per person. Tables for eight can be reserved for $150. Reservations can be made by calling 674-2156.

Special advance pre-session:

Ticket holders also can take advantage of a pre-session featuring two speakers: Sylvia Lovely, executive director and CEO of the Kentucky League of Cities, and Frank Sturzl, executive director of the Texas Municipal League.

The pre-session will start at 9:30 a.m. in Hart Auditorium, located in ACU's College of Biblical Studies building. It will conclude at 11 a.m., offering a 30-minute break before the lunch session with Wentzler and Ferguson starts.

Both Lovely and Sturzl will address building a regional economy in the pre-session. Lovely will bring a regional perspective based on what Kentucky cities have done to adapt to an economy that has been strongly linked to a shrinking tobacco industry.

"West Texas towns have faced similar situations as Kentucky towns," McCaleb said. "In Kentucky, they have been forced to diversify as we have. In Kentucky, the ties were to tobacco. Here, the ties have been to oil and cotton. We have all faced diversity out of necessity, and we can learn from each states' experiences."

Lovely and Sturzl will address other issues such as improving the quality of life in growing communities, including aspects of civic involvement, revitalization and entrepreneurship.

McCaleb said the pre-session offers significant benefits communities in the 22-county Texas Midwest region, especially members of the Texas Midwest Community Network. TMCN is a non-profit association of towns, businesses, associations, clubs and individuals dedicated to a regional communication and networking effort designed to address mutual community problems, strengthen business, agriculture and energy entities, develop marketing strategies and strengthen participation on governmental boards and agencies.

The 2000 Economic Outlook Conference and the pre-session sponsors include ACU's Center for Building Community; American State Bank; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; First National Bank of Abilene; Hanner Chevrolet, Pontiac, GMC SuperCenter; Hendrick Health System; Southwestern Bell and West Texas Utilities.

A table will be reserved for working media. Tickets are not necessary for working media.


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If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Tom Craig, director of media and community relations, at or call 915-674-2692 (cell phone: 665-5469).

Last update: Jan. 12, 2000
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