‘Flood to future’ focus of 35th Annual Economic Outlook Conference Dec. 17

What does the 2016 economy portend for South Carolina, a state recovering from historic flooding, preparing for first-in- the-south presidential primaries and grappling with a future where robots will impact manufacturing and other jobs? 

That’s the focus of the Darla Moore School of Business’ 35th Annual Economic Outlook Conference, the state’s premier economic event, which will take place Dec. 17 at the University of South Carolina.

In addition to the 2016 economic forecast presented by Moore School research economist Joey Von Nessen, this year’s conference will feature New York Times bestselling author Martin Ford, whose recently released book, “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” has ignited a national conversation about the impact that mechanized work across industries will have on future jobs.  

Ford, a Silicon Valley-based software executive, has worked in computer design and software development for more than 25 years. He earned computer engineering degrees from the University of Michigan and UCLA. His first book, titled “The Lights In the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future,” was released in 2009. He often is interviewed by national media about the future of technology.

The conference will take place noon–4 p.m. in the Moore School’s W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall. Registration is online, and tickets cost $75 before Nov. 17 and $95 after.

At the helm of the annual event is Moore School research director Doug Woodward, who has provided South Carolina business and government leaders with the state’s annual economic forecast for 28 years.

“2016 is going to be a pivotal year for the South Carolina economy,” Woodward says. “The state’s economic conditions have improved significantly over the past two years. Now we face uncertainty stemming from the likely end of the Federal Reserve’s zero-interest rate policy, coupled with the challenges of recovering from the 2015 floods.”

Business executives can expect a detailed look on how the recent historic floods will impact the economy of the state and its regions as well as discover a breakdown for anticipated job growth, personal income and trends for industries and sectors. 

Jay Bryson, a Charlotte, N.C.-based managing director and global economist for Wells Fargo Securities, will discuss the Federal Reserve’s expected increase in interest rates and how South Carolina businesses and consumers must prepare.

Leaders attending also can expect a candid discussion on how automated work is evolving in South Carolina, from its impact on jobs in manufacturing — an economic driver — to the role that education must play in preparing students to compete in a world enveloped by automation and artificial intelligence.

Ford will sign his book “Rise of the Robots,” which will be available for purchase, after his keynote. Then Rick Kaglic, senior regional economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which serves the Carolinas, will discuss automated work as it relates to his analysis of and forecasts for regional economic development.

Moore School Dean Peter Brews will address how business education must adjust to plan for and adapt to a world dominated by technology and automated work. Brews contends that future workers must drive innovation at a faster rate and become members of what he calls the “creative core” or the part of an organization entrusted with building the next product, service or solution.

“This year’s Economic Outlook Conference features speakers who will present practical data and valuable analysis to help guide business and government leaders’ short- and long-term decision-making,” Woodward says. "It’s also a great networking event.”

This year’s conference is sponsored by S.C. Research Authority, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and South State Bank.

A detailed agenda for the conference is available on the registration website. For more information, contact the Darla Moore School of Business by email or at 803-777-7311.

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