Our Views: Positive signs for Janesville and Rock County economy

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

If you're still not convinced that Rock County's economy is improving, consider The Gazette's latest quarterly economic dashboard.

This newspaper has been tracking the economy with seven indicators the past 14 quarters. As we reported Monday, all seven were better in the third quarter than comparative numbers from a year ago. This marks only the second time that has happened.

More residents are working and buying cars. More people are buying or selling homes—and at higher average prices. Retailers are busier. Bankruptcy and foreclosure filings are falling.

Yes, we have a long ways to go, and we depend on the national economy, as we saw when the recession hit and General Motors closed its Janesville plant almost five years ago. Businesses remain hesitant to invest.

Janesville and Rock County, however, are poised for growth if the economy continues to gain strength. Rock County 5.0, the five year public-private economic development initiative, has laid much groundwork, including getting industrial sites certified as “shovel ready” in Janesville, Beloit, Edgerton and now Milton. SHINE continues to work through regulatory approval in its plans to build a medical isotopes factory on Janesville's south side. Janesville's GOEX is building a $13 million, 190,000-square-foot factory off Highway 14 at Newville Road, and that's just one of the positive developments in recent months.

Economic development leaders deserve credit for helping push our communities in the right direction. We trust that they'll stay vigilant and open to each fresh opportunity.

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