Economic recovery also is being felt in parts of the local housing market.
Economic recovery also is being felt in parts of the local housing market. (Photo:

Business confidence is on the rise

Several jaws dropped and eyebrows rose in January when BizTimes predicted a robust year of national economic growth for 2015. However, that’s precisely what our data and surveys were pointing to. The headline of the cover story proclaimed, "Ramp it up!"

Well, we’re at the quarter pole, and so far, so good.

A national group of economic forecasters is raising its outlook for the U.S. economy for the next two years.

The March report from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) forecasts more hiring, a lower unemployment rate, a lower inflation rate and more growth in consumer spending in 2015, compared with the group's forecast in December 2014.

The report also forecasts more investment by businesses in both equipment and intellectual property and modest growth for the U.S. stock market.

"NABE’s March 2015 Outlook Survey panel expects a markedly stronger pace of economic growth in 2015 and 2016 than was recorded last year," says NABE president John Silvia, chief economist of Wells Fargo. "The panelists’ median forecast is for real GDP to increase 3.1 percent on an average annual basis this year followed by a 2.9 percent rise in 2016. This compares to a gain of only 2.4 percent in 2014. Healthier consumer spending, housing investment, and government spending growth are expected to make outsized contributions to the projected acceleration in overall economic activity. Accordingly, recent labor market strength is expected to continue. The panelists’ median forecast is for net new job creation to average approximately 250,000 per month in 2015 and 216,000 per month next year. The unemployment rate is expected to continue its downward trend over the next several quarters, reaching 5 percent by the second half of 2016."

Gross domestic product is expected to grow 3.1 percent in 2015.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) validated the optimism in its second quarter Business Outlook Survey. Seventy-six percent of MMAC busine…

Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry - along with Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan -  grew the front office staff by 50 percent.
Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry - along with Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan - grew the front office staff by 50 percent. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Bucks assemble a vibrant business team

Under new ownership, the Milwaukee Bucks made significant strides by building a young pool of talent on the court this season.

However, the organization also has quickly assembled an impressive pool of young talent off the court in the front office. Bucks principal owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan moved that front office to 18,000 square feet of space at Schlitz Park and grew the staff by 50 percent to more than 130 employees. The team added 40 new employees to its sales staff.

Team president Peter Feigin seems to be omnipresent and makes himself readily available to the business community and the media.

Among the young new executives who have made immediate impacts in the Bucks organization are vice president of communications Jake Suski, vice president of ticket sales and service Jamie Morningstar, senior vice president and chief revenue officer Theodore Loehrke and vice president of strategy and operations Alexander Lasry.

Of note, Suski has an impressive and long political resume. He previously served as spokesman for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Utah Gov. and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

Morningstar joined the Bucks after serving as vice president of service and retention at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where she managed the season ticket bases for the NBA's New York Knicks, the NHL's New York Rangers and WNBA's New York Liberty.

Loehrke previously was senior vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA.

Alexander Lasry is the son of Marc Lasry. The younger Lasry has built an impressive resume of his own after earning his master’s degree in business administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He served in various capacities in the Obama White House and Goldman Sachs before following his father to Milwaukee.

Alexander recently created quite a ruckus on Twitter, where he posted a series of Tweets on the one-year annivers…