As 2015 draws to a close, economists are looking ahead to 2016 – and the future – with forecasts that generally are favorable for North Carolina. NCSU economist Dr. Michael Walden sees three “winds of change” that could benefit the state. Technology is one. What are the other two?

In a recent “Economic Perspective” discussion with host Mary Walden, Michael Walden spelled out three major trends that North Carolina should capitalize one.

“I see three important ones,” he explained.

“One is aging population — the percentage of people 65 and over is going to double in the next 50 years. Seventy million baby boomers will retire in coming decades. This is going to impact every business.”

So how could this help the Tar Heel state?

“Where North Carolina can benefit is in attracting many of these folks, particularly from the Midwest and Northeast, to come here to live, bring their pensions, bring their Social Security. They don’t have children to educate, and they spend their money. So that’s number one.”

What the economists, execs are saying:

  • WRAL TechWire has published several recent reports about the state of the North Carolina economy and what executives told Duke University and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants about the U.S. economy/ See the five blogpost links with this report.
  • There’s more: Check out two economic preview events set in the Triangle in the first week of January.

The state’s development as a technology and life science hub, with the Triangle and Charlotte serving as the mega hubs, also is crucial, Walden says.

“Number two: tech innovation. Everyone — everyone — says technology is going to continue to innovate,” he explains.

“Things we can’t even imagine are coming up down the road. North Carolina, of course, has a very large and successful tech sector. The universities certainly help. But every, every location in the country wants to attract tech, so we are going to have to continue to offer the kind of amenities that those tech workers want.”

Then there is North Carolina’s international connections, derived in large part through manufacturing and trade.

In a recent, separate forecast, Walden warned that the rising value of the dollar could hurt exports.

“And then the last one: international connectedness,” Walden says in the Economic Perspective.

“This is going to affect businesses that export products to foreign countries, particularly developing countries. Our meat industry is very important here,” he notes.

“And secondly — I don’t think people think about this very much — is attracting foreign tourists to the great tour spots we have in North Carolina. We have to make sure we have the infrastructure that can handle those.”