Twice-a-year Events Provide Vital Service to Business Community,
Says IRF Director Robert W. ‘Bill’ Gilmer
If you want in-depth analysis of the Houston economy, you aren’t going to get it from The Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg, says Robert W. “Bill” Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting (IRF) at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston.
That’s why the IRF’s twice-yearly symposia on the state of the regional economy provide such a vital service to the Houston business community, says Gilmer, who took over leadership of the prestigious institute in October after serving as senior economist and vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Gilmer plans to address the Houston region’s decade of growth at the IRF’s spring symposium May 2. The lunchtime presentation, in the Imperial Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, will mark Gilmer’s debut as the voice of the IRF.
“Houston is a very distinctive place,” Gilmer said in an interview. “It’s built on energy for one thing. The local business cycle is very different from the rest of the country. You are not going to learn very much about the outlook for Houston by reading The Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg. They’ll tell you all about the U.S. economy. Houston is headed in a different direction. It’s a real service to provide that economic outlook for the local economy.”
Gilmer assumes the mantle of Professor Emeritus Barton Smith, who founded the IRF and shaped its signature programming and economic forecasts, which, Gilmer says, began in 1984 and evolved into the current twice-a-year format by 1988. Moving forward, Gilmer will lead the fall and spring symposia.
While the spring event has traditionally focused on Houston real estate, Gilmer’s expertise is energy, and that’s what he will address in his first presentation, “Oil Powers a Decade of Growth in Houston: Is There Another to Come?”
“Most people will be surprised how much energy has grown here, how big energy is, how deeply it is embedded in the Houston economy,” Gilmer said. Houston’s growth has paralleled a decade of spiraling oil prices, and there may be lessons to be learned from the 1980s, when there was an energy boom that fizzled, the economist said.
Gilmer, who holds an M.A. and a Ph. D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, will look at how the current energy-fueled bonanza “might end badly, or how it might continue for another decade.”
The symposium begins at 11 a.m. and concludes at 1:30 p.m. Lunch is provided. Tickets are $110 in advance; $125 at the door. A table for 10 is $925.
Gilmer will also speak at the next Bauer College Alumni Association Networking Breakfast; that’s at 7 a.m. May 16 at the Houston City Club.
By Wendell Brock