Monday, December 11, 2006

SF Bay Area Regional economy healthy, group says

Regional economy healthy, group says

By George Avalos/Contra Costa Times

Article Launched:12/09/2006 07:22:20 AM PST

Local business executives believe the Bay Area economy will chug ahead at a brisk pace in the coming months, according to a survey released Friday.

And the regional economy is strong enough that nearly five times as many company managers are gearing up to hire more employees in the next six months than those who are planning to reduce their staffing levels, the latest Bay Area Business Confidence Survey shows.

"It looks like we are rocking and rolling," said Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council, which commissioned the survey. "The CEOs we surveyed are telling us they are very much bullish about the Bay Area economy."

About 37 percent of executives surveyed said they intended to increase the size of their Bay Area workforce. Eight percent planned to reduce employees.

"Things look pretty solid right now," Wunderman said.

Even the battered technology sector seems to be doing better, a welcome reversal.

"About 50 percent of the tech executives we surveyed say their industry is better, and about 75 percent say things will get better in the next six months," Wunderman said. "The traffic between the East Bay and San Jose is increasing on a daily basis. Welcome back, Sunol Grade."

The top executive with Berkeley-based Web development firm Aeronet Communications Corp. is seeing a lot of demand.

"Business is good," said Ben Fajen, president of Aeronet. "We are getting a lot of requests for proposals to set up Web sites. The second half of this year, things have really picked up."

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