BENTON - With a better-than-expected second quarter, experts are seeing evidence of an economic turnaround and are predicting more of the same.
"We're starting to show some growth again," said Scott County Economic Developer Jim Schwaninger during Tuesday's regular County Commission meeting.
Schwaninger presented an economic report on Scott County and Southeast Missouri using information from the Southeast Missouri Business Indicator Fall 2003 report by the Donald L. Harrison College of Business' Center for Economic and Business Research.
While the county's increase of .79 percent in retail sales tax from last year to a total of $300,056 is modest, it is better than neighboring counties with New Madrid and Mississippi counties even having slight decreases, Schwaninger said.
Experts are anticipating a drop in the county's unemployment rate from 5.5 percent to 5.2 percent, according to Schwaninger.
Unemployment throughout Southeast Missouri at the end of the second quarter was at 5.8 percent, with experts predicting a drop to 5.6 percent by the year's end, Schwaninger said.
Birth and death statistics show the county gained about 100 people but the total net population dropped by 243 due to people moving from the county, Schwaninger said.
Mississippi County gained 500 people but the increase was attributed to the Southeast Correctional Center.
Cape Girardeau showed a 1.2 percent gain in population with 411 additional people and New Madrid had a net loss of 555 in population. "They took the biggest hit," Schwaninger said. "We're holding our own. That's a very modest loss."
In other county business:
* Schwaninger updated commissioners on the county's video arraignment system.
The Office of the State Court Administrator's video conferencing coordinator from Jefferson City will come to the county to "counsel us on fine-tuning the video arraignment equipment," Schwaninger said.
Schwaninger suggested bidding the video arraignment project in sections - such as one bid for equipment and another bid on installation - but Commissioner Jamie Burger said he thinks it would be better to bid it as a whole so they know who is responsible for making sure it works. "If you split it up, if something goes wrong it's 'nobody's fault,'" Burger said.
* Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel said county residents may begin dropping off used irrigation polypipe again at the lot leased by the county from Gaines Beck Trucking behind McMullin's Mini Mart on Highway 61 near Morley.