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MS: Coast Economy May Improve

Though the nation’s economy is keeping much of the business world holding its breath, South Mississippi’s economy is in a position to move forward, thanks to stable banks and cooperation among sectors, members of the Sun Herald Business Roundtable said Thursday at their quarterly meeting.

Meanwhile, banks on the Coast continue to stay above the treacherous waters institutions in other parts of the country are facing, roundtable members said.

Deposits are holding “OK,” said Fred Osing of Wachovia Bank. “I think we’re still seeing a lot of the effect of the Katrina dollars going out,” he said, but the economic base remains strong. Banks are especially competitive now and keeping an eye on shifting of deposits.

Deposits on the Gulf Coast have been artificially inflated since Katrina, but they tend to balance themselves out, said Cheryl Johnson of Regions Bank.

“We have not experienced a significant drop in deposits,” she said. “The banks down here are concerned with integrity and community, and they concentrate on the core fundamentals of banking.”

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