By Michael Davis

Hundreds of business and political leaders from all over the Atlanta area, including Clayton and Henry counties, gathered in downtown Atlanta for the State of the Region Breakfast Friday and heard some good news from economic forecasters.

"This is an exciting time in our region," said Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman and Clayton County Commission Chairman C. Crandle Bray. "But it is important to pause periodically and take stock in our region."

Citing the results of the recently released Platforms for Progress survey, ARC Director Charles Krautler said that the Atlanta region is "one of the most attractive regions in America." The survey reports 87 percent of respondents cited the Atlanta area as a generally good place to live.

The President and Chief Executive Officer the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Jack Guynn, pointed to signs of economic growth going into the end of the year.

"The recovery over the last two years has been difficult," Guynn said. "But I'm confident that economic conditions will improve."

"I have reason to believe that consumers will be upbeat this holiday season," he said, pointing to increased spending across industries.

Guynn also noted a recent jobs increase, especially in the residential housing market and an increase in business spending.

"I am now hearing reports from bankers that business customers are starting to talk about new projects," Guynn said.

Executive Director of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Kay Pippin, was excited by the news.

"Any time that Jack Guynn gives you that kind of information, you're going to have an upbeat attitude," she said. "He was optimistic about what is going on."

Pippin also noted a speech by Raymond Christman, President and CEO of Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. "It was nice to hear (Christman) remind us that everybody has to have a place to live."

"We often have our daily lives interrupted by growth and prosperity but we are a region of growth and prosperity," she added.

But Grant Wainscott, vice president of Community Development for the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, was a little less optimistic, noting Guynn's speech was based on large corporate spending.

"We really like to hear talk about businesses spending and how that affects our nation and our local economy," he said. "How long that's going to take to trickle down to Clayton County?I don't know."

Bob White, executive director of the Henry County Development Authority, said that Guynn's analysis "mirrored what we see. That was in-line with other reads we're getting on the economy."

Realizing that the economy is in the first stages of a turn-around, White said, "There's still some way to go but we've seemed to have turned a corner."