By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

While the National Bureau of Economic Research on Monday declared the U.S. to be in a recession since December 2007, some local bankers and Central Texas economic leaders say the greater Killeen area is not.

"Things would certainly indicate that the nation is in some type of economic down turn," said Jerry Conner, Copperas Cove Economic Development Cooperation executive director. "We are fortunate to live in Central Texas and even more fortunate to have Fort Hood here."

Conner said that the greater Killeen area, which has Fort Hood as its largest employer, is not struggling like other parts of the U.S.

Conner is not alone in believing that Fort Hood has a role in helping Central Texas maintain a better economic state than most communities.

A recession is typically caused by a lack of consumer confidence resulting in a lack of spending, said Keith Maxwell, Extraco Bank Regional president.

While Central Texas is seeing a softening in the housing market and retail, it is not because of a lack of confidence, Maxwell said. With Fort Hood as an economic engine, there are people, contractors and soldiers, who are not affected by worrying about payroll, he said.

Another reason the Central Texas economy is remaining strong is because Texas never got involved in some of the causes of the recession, such as the housing bubble on the East and West Coast, Maxwell said.

The bank president said the softening that the Central Texas economy is feeling is a natural progression of areas that have been effected by residential and economic growth.

"We are not generating the same sales volumes as we were last year or the year before, but at the same time our economy is continuing to move forward," Maxwell said. "It is a slowing of the growth."

Copperas Cove currently has low unemployment rates and high retail sell figures, Conner said.

"The true sign of the economy is that our retail figures have grown every month," Conner said.

However, Bobby Hoxworth, First National Bank Texas president, said there are some factors of the recession affecting Central Texas.

"Texas has been for the most part fairly insulated from that, but we are not isolated from the national tightening of credit," Hoxworth said.

People are also watching funds like 401(k)'s shrink and their stocks fall – this causes them to feel less prepared for the future, Hoxworth said.

He added, however, that the economy tends to grow and contract and consumer confidence and financial well being will start to be restored.

"I think I would rather be in Texas, and especially Central Texas, than any place in the U.S. right now, to face the recession," Hoxworth said. "I think we are well equipped to continue to grow as a community and a state."

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7554.

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