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Some optimism as new year begins

2014, the year that is just beginning, opens with some measure of optimism among business, professional and political leaders in Paris.

2013, the year just ended, did so with the feeling that things improved a little, according to those same business, professional and political leaders.

2013 was a pretty good year if you sold real estate and vehicles in north Logan County. Conditions in both those business sectors have been steadily improving for several years now.

“We sold more pieces of property this year than last year,” said Sherrie Parks, broker and owner of Paris Realty. “We have sold several over $200,000. Our average sales price has been more this year on family homes and land sales. We didn’t see a slowdown between Thanksgiving and Christmas, like in years past. We have seven properties on the board at this time in different stages of the closing process.

“We have sold more acreage and building lots, so we feel that the public thinks maybe the economy is getting better,” she said.

Both new car dealerships in Paris — Paris Ford and Rogers Chevrolet — continued to see strong sales in 2013.

“Our sales were mighty fine this year,” said Van Rogers, sales manager at Rogers Chevrolet. “It was pretty much a banner year until bad weather hit in early December. Things slowed down after that. Otherwise, it was a banner year for us and that’s on top of a record-setting year in 2012.

“Everything is pointing toward 2014 being a very good year,” he said. “That’s what the industry thinks. I can tell you, the car business is very good.”

Joe Schluterman, owner of Paris Ford, said pretty much the same thing.

“It’s been a very good year for business,” he said. “We’re expecting a good year in 2014. We’ve got a lot of new product coming out in 2014. In fact, our business has been good for several years now. We can’t complain.”

Banks in Paris also had a good year in 2013 and there is optimism that steady growth in the local economy will continue into 2014, based on comments by Jarrod Yarnell, President and CEO of First National Bank of Paris, and Jason Shook. manager of the Arvest Bank branch in Paris.

Both said their institutions had a good year. They also see reason for optimism about 2014, especially if consumers can shake off the lingering hangover from the 2008 recession.

“Things are starting to pick up but it’ll take some time,” Shook said. “People are still a little leery. It’s more psychological than anything else. People just don’t know. So, we’re still seeing some issues. But overall, as a whole, the bank did pretty well this year.”

“I think the economy started improving toward the end of the year,” Yarnell said. “However, loan demand hasn’t gotten back to 2008 levels. I think the economy will continue to keep slowly improving. The psychological part of it is holding us back — no doubt about it. But, the local economy is still stable. It’s better than it was two or three years ago and getting better.”