2015 Economic Forecast: Great Year as Gas Prices Fall and Visitors Spend

2015 Economic Forecast: Great Year as Gas Prices Fall and Visitors Spend

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Ocean City Home Bank President Steve Brady addresses the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Jan. 22.

Ocean City Home Bank President Steve Brady said Thursday he sees a great year ahead for tourism in Ocean City.

Brady gave his 2015 “Economic Forecast” to the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce at a Flanders Hotel luncheon Jan. 22.

He called the fall of oil prices from $98 a barrel at the end of 2013 to $45 a barrel at the end of 2014 the “story of the year.”

“People are going to start to spend more” as consumer savings increase, Brady said.

He said for every one-cent drop in gas prices, U.S. consumers collectively save $1 billion.

Brady said 2014 was a tale of two cities. While Atlantic City lost four casinos and 8,000 jobs, Ocean City’s economy remained stable — as it has through the economic crisis in the last decade.

Ocean City owners sold 893 homes in 2014 (another 104 are under contract) with the average sales price rising from $573,000 to $579,000, he said.

His presentation included observations on the national economy: the Dow will stay in the 15,000 to 18,000 range, the unemployment rate between 5.5 and 6.5 percent and interest rates “will finally start to rise.” He said the country will continue to be burdened by what is now $18.1 trillion in debt.

He said the regional economy can stabilize if Atlantic City “right-sizes.” He said Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian does a fantastic job and knows how to communicate. He see positive developments in new retail at The Walk, the development of a Richard Stockton College facility at the former Showboat casino, the return of the annual Air Show and the enhancement of Gardner’s Basin.

Locally, he encouraged all to shop locally.

“You have a great downtown and a great boardwalk,” he said.

And his No. 1 hope for Ocean City in 2015?

“Great weather.”