Pinal breakfast

CHANDLER — Economic analyst Elliott Pollack predicts that growth and expansion will continue in Pinal County.

Pollack gave his annual economic forecast at a Pinal Partnership breakfast Friday at Rawhide, saying that he is more optimistic than he has been in a long time.

While the recovery from the recession of a decade ago has been the slowest in U.S. history, Pinal County has fared well when compared to the rest of the state, which is now 13th out of 50 in terms of growth and continues to expand. Pinal County has had long-term growth of 3.2 percent and 2 percent short-term growth, which is better than most places in the state. Pinal also continues to have stronger population growth than most of the state, including Maricopa County.

Slow population growth has been a key factor in the slow expansion, according to Pollack, which he blamed on Millennials.

One of the most significant statistics Pollack cited was the percentage of jobs lost during the recession that have since been recovered, 314 percent, again beating Maricopa County.

He said that Pinal has been the “star of the state in terms of economic recovery.” Pinal County has expanded significantly since the recession, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Propositions 416 and 417, passed in the recent election, and the new transportation infrastructure that will come with them will provide the necessary infrastructure to meet the growth.

“This is huge, this just opens up huge markets to you,” Pollack said. “It makes you so much more accessible — it will change the nature of commute habits. It opens a huge door.”

He noted that employers like Frito-Lay, Abbott Nutrition, Hexcel and Walmart have all continued to expand and bring more jobs into the county while the county has also managed to attract newcomers like Tractor Supply, Applegate (Insulation) and Franklin Foods.

“These are the types of companies you need for growth,” Pollack said.

There are many future projects in the works that could continue this trend.

“You have so many things in the pipeline that they all don’t have to happen,” Pollack said. “PhoenixMart, the Attesa motor sports park, Dreamport Villages. If one of them happens it will bring in so many jobs it will be a game changer for you guys. If two of them happen, you’re in a boom that will last several years.”

He explained that the influx of jobs and improved roads should create an upswing in the housing market because there will be more of a demand from people living and working in Pinal County. Millennials will also be moving in to the age range where they are more likely to buy homes in greater numbers, which should sustain housing growth for years.