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These bad economic times shall pass

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | October 22, 2022 1:08 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Reports that the Federal Reserve may ease back on interest rate hikes sent stocks soaring Friday and gave Jimmy McAndrew the opening he was looking for: All is not lost when it comes to the economy.

"This is not all bad news," said the vice president of real estate sales with Mountain West Bank.

While inflation is affecting everything, housing costs are high and a recession is either already here or coming, depending on your outlook, McAndrew believes these times shall pass.

"There are some remedies for what’s going on out there," he said Friday morning during the "Navigating the Growth of Kootenai County" program presented by the Coeur d'Alene Regional Chamber and the Coeur d'Alene Regional Realtors before about 150 people at the Best Western Plus Coeur d'Alene Inn.

Speakers included Jennifer Smock, Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty; Gynii Gilliam, Coeur d'Alene Area Economic Development Corporation; Maggie Lyons, Panhandle Affordable Housing Alliance and Greta Gissel, CDA 2030.

They offered a look at challenges in these uncertain times and pitched solutions.

Lyons said housing must be addressed. She said that in 2018, 40% of households in Kootenai County couldn't make ends meet, like paying for housing, food and gas. In 2022, it rose to 60%.

Blue-collar workers are being forced to move due to higher rents and prices, which affects businesses in need of employees.

Lyons issued a warning.

“There are dire consequences for communities that do not respond to a housing crisis," she said.

Solutions to develop affordable housing are possible with private/public partnerships, with municipal support, she said.

Community land trusts "are a wonderful opportunity to get home ownership in the hands of our wage earners," Lyons said.

There have been success stories, such as Habitat for Humanity's condominium projects and developers dedicating units to affordable housing.

Home ownership matters, Lyons added, because it bolsters prosperity, education, employment and community integrity.

"It is absolutely possible for Kootenai County to have affordable housing for everyone," she said.

Gilliam said the current focus of the Coeur d'Alene Area Economic Development Corporation, also known as Jobs Plus, is on helping existing businesses.

She said the area has a strong, diversified economy, with thriving health, education, tourism and retail sectors.

"But challenges are there," she said, referring to nearly 3,000 unfilled jobs in the area.

She outlined avenues to attract and keep workers through training, flexible schedules and child care options.

"This talent shortage is not going to go on," she said.

Kootenai County will continue to attract people and companies, she said, so it must plan accordingly.

"We can’t really just stop the growth,” Gilliam said. "If we stand still, we're going to get left behind."

McAndrew, in an upbeat talk, has faith these times will pass.

"This is temporary. That’s the good news," he said.

He said the "bananas" days of soaring real estate and a red-hot stock market couldn't last.

"We needed a correction, a healthy correction, so that’s what we’re seeing," McAndrew said.

A recession generally brings on lower interest rates, he said, and he believes the Federal Reserve's efforts to prevent the economy from faltering further "are working."

But interest rates will still increase before they go down, he said, which will continue to impact buying power.

"We’ve got a long ways to go," McAndrew said.

On stocks, McAndrew said, "It’s your time in the market more so than timing the market."

On housing, he said he has bought property in good times and bad.

"You're hedged against inflation with housing, which is a good thing," he said.

McAndrew said the Coeur d'Alene area is well positioned to weather the economic storm.

"I don't know of a greater place to live on the planet. We have to be thankful for that," he said. "We have to be thankful that we have a solid government."

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​Gynii Gilliam gestures during her presentation at Friday's "Navigating the Growth of Kootenai County" at the Best Western Plus Coeur d'Alene Inn.