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Columbus, Kokomo Among Biggest GDP Movers In National Report

Columbus bike racks

Photo: Kevin Doran

Columbus saw 10 percent GDP growth from 2008 to 2009.

Gross domestic product, or GDP, is measured by adding the total values of goods and services produced in a given geographic region in a year. During the past year, both Kokomo and Columbus are among the 20 best cities in the nation for GDP growth, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance President Jeb Conrad said it is a nice verification that the city has rebounded from the days of 20 percent unemployment at the bottom of the recession.

“I knew we were doing well, and it’s felt like we’ve really been successful in many, many ways, but it’s good to have a real third-source measurement to say ‘Hey, you guys are in a good position and are competing well,’” Conrad said.

Kokomo grew its GDP 6.5 percent from 2008 to 2009. In Columbus, GDP grew by 10 percent.  But those cities’ circumstances in 2008 may explain their growth. Both suffered from the downfall of the auto industry and Columbus saw record flooding.

“It’s important to understand the context of the area,” BEA Regional Economist Sharon Panek said. “For instance, if the area had suffered a recent decline, then it’s going to be starting from a lower base. And so you are going to see a higher percentage increase.”

For that reason, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Jack Hess said he’s realistic about growth prospects going forward.

“I think it’s still going to be strong,” Hess said. “We’re traditionally in the area of maybe 3 to 5 percent GDP growth in the region, so this would be next to 2 to 3 times of where we’ve been historically.”

Kokomo’s Jeb Conrad said he does not expect 6 percent growth in the coming year but does forecast another uptick from 2009 to 2010. As a whole, the nation’s GDP grew 2.5 percent in 2009.

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