As most of you know by now, I belong to a group of large independent real estate companies around the country. Some are in big cities, but most are in smaller cities (although bigger than New Haven or Hartford). For some reason, Madison, Wisconsin seems to be the most like our region. Dave Stark, the owner of Stark Real Estate there, and I have discussed this, and it's likely to have a lot to do with the employment base. They have both the state capitol in Madison, and the University of Wisconsin, and those are the two biggest employers. If you didn't know that before, you weren't watching the state workers picketing the Madison capitol!
Having a lot of non-profit and government workers in a region usually makes the employment situation steadier, as well as the use of commercial space. Universities and governmental bodies think in terms of decades, not months. Also, you don't often have the boom times that you would find in Silicon Valley, say, or Wall Street, or even a smaller place where a large manufacturer might open or expand a facility.
Therefore, I thought it was very good news last week when I received Stark's quarterly mailing. While they had the same horrible first quarter that seemed to prevail everywhere, the recent signs have been encouraging. They see lots of pending activity, and increased interest in real estate. I hope it gets here as fast as a big storm seems to do!