It is better here bank executives say

DeWayne Bartels

The Greater Peoria Area is not in great economic shape, but it is better than a lot of other Illinois markets is the message Ed Scharlau, vice-chairman of Busey Bank, brought Oct. 6 to the Peoria Country Club.

It was the third year Scharlau brought his economic seminar to Peoria.

“We all know the Peoria area is feeling the effects of the recession, but there are many areas that would be glad to have the economic figures Peoria has,” Scharlau said.

Even though the agriculture market is expected to take a hit this year because of falling grain prices and lower than normal yields expected, Scharlau said the market in Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties is expected to still be about $455 million, down from $557 million in 2008.

“Think what a good economic cushion that is,” Scharlau said.

In the area of retail sales, Scharlau said, retail sales in the Tri-County Area is expected to hit $4.5 billion, down only 5 percent from the $4.7 billion in 2008.

Peoria County makes up 56 percent of that total with Tazewell County contributing 38 percent and Woodford County rounding out the total with 6 percent.   

Despite the fall in retail sales, Scharlua said figures show the state average was a 9.1 percent fall and all of downstate showed a 10 percent drop. Peoria County fell well below both averages by charting a 6.9 percent drop. Tazewell County was down only 4.5 percent.

“We don’t like lower retail sales, but compared to the State of Illinois and downstate Peoria and Tazewell counties are holding up fairly well,” Scharlau said.

He looked at home sales and found that homes are not selling as quickly as they did in the past, but are selling. He found in the Tri-County Area that 672 fewer homes and condos were sold in ‘08 compared to ‘07. That amounted to a $93 million drop in dollar volume.

Scharlau ended his presentation asking those gathered to remain optimistic.

“We all know the recession has touched all areas of the Tri-County. Hopefully we are the bottom of the recession ...” Scharlau said.

Dan Daly, west region president for Busey Bank, said he hopes those gathered took away one message.

“Despite the downturn this area has been better and is resilient,” Daly said. “There are still great opportunities here.”