Well, as we start the year let us take stock in what we have from a macroeconomic stance in the North Bay.
This will be a big year in transportation. First the Petaluma River Bridge will be completed and the SMART train will go into service. That is the good news. The only real challenge is that the expansion of 101 through the Narrows is not funded and I am not sure if it will be. Hopefully, all of this should reduce some commute times for those headed into San Francisco. I think the next thing on the docket is the Terminal Expansion at the Sonoma County Airport. This needs to happen to allow for multiple airlines which will drive service towards the East. I personally am hopeful for Denver as the first airport to the east. It is a major hub and not too far on the slower regional jets that we have.
Water should be in a bit better shape with the wetter winter we seem to be having. We will have to see how things work out for the entire winter, but January has been very rainy so far. I am not sure that this ends the drought or that we should stop looking for water savings, but I am hopeful that this will lower some of the extreme pressure. There are also folks along the Russian River who will benefit from higher water for tourism reasons. All good stuff.
I am hopeful that there will start to be some significant new housing inventory coming onto the market this year. This should help buyers, particularly first time buyers to be able to get into homes. We shall have to see if this becomes a reality later this year. This would say that if you are planning to sell a home, we are probably at or near the peak of this bubble. Once inventory comes onto the market, prices would seem likely to mitigate.
There seems to be a boom in Hotel building with more work going on at the Graton Casino leading the way. Tourism is a large chunk of our local economy and this should be a good thing. I will be curious to see if the Casino is going to get into the true event business with conventions and the like. It just seems to me that the Graton does not generally attract the kind of patrons that the rest of North Bay Tourism does. I am looking for synergies and not just a separate business doing its own thing. But given that they have poured about $1B into that facility it is worth keeping an eye on.
From a Global Business standpoint, the US is a lot more stable than the rest of the world. The Stock Market decline this week was over concerns in China. Europe still has debt and refugee issues. So, the US is a good place to invest and expect growth. We need to keep our eyes on these other locales to make sure that we are doing the right thing. One thing that the global instability might cause in a reduction in foreign interest in North Bay Wineries and Vineyards. We might be priced out of the market for foreign buyers at this time.
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