Where is the Savannah economy headed in 2012?

At a New Year’s Eve party last night, a native Savannahian who has spent much of her life living in New York asked me why we didn’t have an Apple store here.

And then another guest, one who has had close Savannah ties for many years and who recently moved here, chimed in: “Or a Trader Joe’s?”

I don’t make a habit of referring people to my upcoming columns, but I got a laugh out of the fact that I had mentioned both of those stores in today’s City Talk column: What’s in the store for the local economy in 2012.

As I say in the column, I don’t know anything about those retailers coming to Savannah, and the persistent rumors of Whole Foods coming to the former Backus Cadillac on Victory have no basis in any facts that I know. But with an improving economy and growing population, we will eventually see chains like that move to Savannah.

And we should see a lot of things happen this year and in the coming years if I’m correct that the local economy will perform better in 2012 than it did in 2011. In fact, I think this will be our best year since 2007.

As of November 2011, we had lost 14,500 jobs in the metro area compared to November 2007, about 9% of the job base. That’s a terrible number, but I think that will improve next year, and other factors should work in our favor too.

If I had to choose one line from the column that people will actually read, here it is: “I suspect local growth in 2012 will be more dependent on small, smart decisions than on big, splashy announcements.”

The Savannah economy has had a weak recovery from the recession, and the Georgia economy has had an abysmal one. Let’s hope we see smart moves this year that help us shake off the drag of the last few years.

Btw, yesterday I posted about some great bands, all new to me, that played in Savannah in 2011. I think 2012 will be another good one for live music, but there are still some key pieces of the music scene puzzle missing.