Business

Experts discuss economy during pandemic in virtual edition of Gazette Business Breakfast Series

Panel sees bright spots in residential real estate, construction

If there’s one certainty in the economy right now, it might be about how much is uncertain.

“We’ve dealt with a lot of floods — and significant floods. We’ve dealt with a tornado. We’ve had a lot of events like that,” said Kelly Hayworth, city administrator for Coralville.

“Those were a lot easier to plan around because there’s a specific date and time that you know this is going to be over.”

That was the consensus at the latest panel in The Gazette’s Business Breakfast Series, which was released virtually Thursday morning.

Hayworth, University of Iowa economics professor Anne Villamil and Marion Economic Development Corp. President Nick Glew discussed a variety of economic topics, ranging from when does the “recovery” start to where ongoing projects stand.

The session is available to view at thegazette.com/businessbreakfastMay21. Here are a few highlights of the virtual event:

Home sales

Demand in residential real estate has remained high despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Activity continues to be strong,” Glew said.

Glew said the construction of new homes in Marion has been more active through the end of April this year than last year.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Hayworth said the low interest rates have been a “huge benefit” to the residential real estate industry.

“There has been a dramatic interest in sales of homes,” Hayworth said.

Not everyone is in a position to make a major purchase, though, amid economic uncertainty.

“If you know you have stability in your job, it’s a great time to buy a house,” Villamil said. “The issue is for the people that have that uncertainty about themselves — both for them and their lenders.”

Construction continues

Many construction projects in Coralville are still on pace to finish this summer, Hayworth said.

The new Xtream Arena in Coralville will be ready in August. The arena might not open right away, though, depending on the status of the virus.

“A lot of it relates to what happens to the University of Iowa,” Hayworth said, noting the students, faculty and UI football fans that converge in the area for games.

Hayworth said the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ new rehabilitation clinic and Mercy Medical Center’s new rehabilitation clinic are both set to be complete next month.

Each clinic will have 40 beds and employ 200 people.

Plans for a new Best Western are also “moving forward no matter what,” Hayworth said.

Target held off on its expansion in Coralville to see what changes are necessary because of the virus — though the chain is moving ahead with its downtown Iowa City plans.

“They said they’ll be back next year,”

“Consumer confidence is key,” Villamil said. “If consumers are afraid to spend, that would be a major problem.”

The next Gazette Business Breakfast panel is scheduled for Aug. 20. More details to come.

NewBoCo is a community partner in this event.

Comments: john.steppe@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.