Vision 2013

Coweta consumers feeling more confident

by W. Winston Skinner

"I feel better than I did a year ago," local banker Steve Stripling says – speaking in economic terms.

Coweta County residents are feeling more confident – and that is a good sign for strengthening the local economy. "Things are better than they were a year ago and better than they were two years ago," said Stripling, president of United Bank in Newnan.

"Business seems to be very, very good. People feel good," noted Steve Mader, owner and general manager of SouthTowne Motors.

Ashley Schubert, Coweta-Fayette president for Charter Bank, spoke of "the role of confidence in the consumer" that is making the economy grow again. "Consumer confidence plays a huge role," he said.

"For me, that is the most important thing that can drive the economy – consumer confidence," Stripling said. In practical terms, that confidence comes from people feeling they will have work and income, having a sense of financial security in the future and seeing a lot of political issues that could impact the economy come to a resolution.

Consumer confidence "means a lot" in terms of growing the economy, Mader said. People who do not feel optimistic about the economy "are not going to have confidence about spending money," Mader said. "They're not going to tie themselves into new loans."

A Jeep dealership will be opening in the coming months in Coweta County and a Nissan dealership is in the planning stages. There have been rumors of a third dealership, as well. The growth in that sector is "a good indicator of our growth and local consumer confidence," Schubert said.

Lower unemployment rates give people optimism that they will be working in the next year – which makes them more likely to buy a new car or spend money on clothing.

Stripling acknowledged the unemployment number is still "not where you want it" and said people who have been out of work for a long time are not feeling the resurging strength in the local economy.

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