|James Dusik, a senior commercial account manager with the Bank of Montreal, says there's a lot of optimism in Kelowna for 2013.|
"Our customers and contacts are a fair bit more optimistic for 2013 and 2014 than they were for 2012," said Kelowna-based senior commercial account manager James Dusik of Bank of Montreal.
"Most businesses went through their downsizing and rightsizing during the recession and are now doing quite well relatively speaking. They are starting to look at expanding, hiring more and updating infrastructure."
Dusik's comments come on the heels of Bank of Montreal's Provincial Monitor Report released Thursday.
While the monitor gives economic growth figures for the provinces (British Columbia will see 2.2 per cent expansion this year), it doesn't break down numbers for smaller regions like the Okanagan or Kelowna. So the bank's outlook for the area are anecdotal.
Okanagan economies are expected to make gains in the same range as the province. While 2013's projected 2.2 per cent uptick is actually a little less than B.C.'s 2012 growth of 2.5 per cent, it's an improvement for the Okanagan and Kelowna.
The B.C. number is impacted significantly by the projected continuation of a slumping housing market for both new construction and resales in the bigger cities of Vancouver and Victoria.
Kelowna's real estate market dipped in 2012 as well, but is expected to pick up this year.
"Real estate in Kelowna will still be pretty slow going, but should see marginal improvement," said Dusik.
"Where we're seeing some good expansion is in the wine and soft fruit industries and even hard hit forestry seems to be on the verge of coming back as there's more demand for our lumber in China and the United States."
Technology is an exciting and growing industry in Kelowna, but it's still too small to have much of an impact on the overall economy, added Dusik.
Tourism is expected to see growth in the Valley and the city as people continue to come here from the nearby markets of Vancouver and Alberta, as well as farther afield to ski, golf and wine tour.
Kelowna's biggest economic sectors right now tend to be government (government services as well as education and health care), retail-wholesale and investment spending by retirees.
Retail-wholesale should hold steady as unemployment shrinks a bit and consumer confidence builds.
The current economy is referred to as the new normal, a far cry from the heady ultra-growth years of the 2004-08 boom.