ST. CLOUD -- Innovations and ideas is theme for this year’s St. Cloud State University’s Winter Institute.

This is the 55th year of the two day economics and business conference focusing on today’s infrastructure and growing economic impact.

SCSU economics professor King Banaian says locally the prospects for business have been better over the past year. Although the unemployment rate went up in St. Cloud in 2016, we also saw and increase in job wages and new housing construction. He even went as far to say there is a zero chance of a recession happening over the next six months.

The event was highlighted by Keynote Speakers Corey Tollefson and Deirdre McCloskey. Tollefson says with the continuing growth in technology, our economy has only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

"Netflix was actually an acquisition target of Blockbuster, but Blockbuster walked away from it because they said that customers want stores and not buy stuff online. At the end of the day Blockbuster is out of business and Netflix is worth $50-billion. When it comes to technology were just in the early innings."

His advice for the future is to no longer think of your business as just a bank or retail store, but rather as a technology company and use technology to your advantage.

Friday's keynote speaker, McCloskey, a professor at the University of Illinois, says our country is strong economically and doesn’t see that changing. However, she would like to see less regulations for smaller business to succeed.

"What I would like to see us do is to deregulate. Make it easier to start a business, make it easier to keep it going, make it easier to hire people. I can understand why people want to regulate but I think most of our protections come from a free and vital market."

McClosky says she believes America is wealthy not because of government regulation but because of our freedom to be innovative.

The Winter Institute continues Friday at 8:00 a.m. in the Atwood Memorial Center.

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