At a gathering of economic experts in Cherry Hill Tuesday, the consensus was bright for the rest of 2015 in terms of business growth in the South Jersey/Philadelphia region.  

(John Wohlfeil, ThinkStock)

Gary Wagner, regional economic advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, summed up the overall feeling expressed at the meeting.

"I think overall the outlook is very bright," he said. "I think that there are a couple of areas in South Jersey where we have some pockets of, sort of weakness, where it is a little bit sluggish, mainly in the Ocean City and Vineland areas. Ocean City obviously as a result of the casinos closing down."

Wagner said the strongest point is continuing broad-based hiring. The downside involves job losses in leisure and hospitality, much of it due to the recent Atlantic City casino closings. But he says their south Jersey business survey showed some improvements.

"Forty-seven percent of the respondents expect significant improvements over the next six months, and 9 percent expect conditions to deteriorate," he said.

He called it a pretty positive signal for the region.

"If we look at the tri-state region, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, twice in 2015, year-over-year, employment growth has exceeded one percent. The last time that happened was in early 2006," he said.

According to Wagner, the buzz in the room at the Cherry Hill meeting -- held Tuesday morning at the Crowne Plaza Hotel -- was very positive from all of the speakers.  Among those in attendance were Lou Cooperhouse, director of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center, who spoke about food production in the area, Carmen Valentino, who is vice president of naval radar and future systems at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Moorestown and Dennis Castleman, vice president of Industry relations for the U.S. Travel Association.

Wagner said the outlook for tourism along the New Jersey coast was also very  positive.   He said that the moderator noted that it was nice this year to have such a positive outlook, compared to what we have seen in recent years.