With the vacancy rate for industrial space in Rhode Island falling below 10 percent last year for the first time since 2009, and with a number of local banks reporting significant growth in their commercial-loan portfolios in 2012, the evidence is piling up that the region’s economy is improving.
The vacancy figures come courtesy CB Richard Ellis-New England’s yearly survey of the commercial real estate market, although despite the good-news top line, the real estate market is recovering slowly. In addition, much of the good news is focused on small to medium-size properties, meaning that there is ample room for improvement in the large-space market.
As banks make their annual reports, many of them are posting increases in commercial-loan activity. Banks don’t make loans for which they aren’t confident of being repaid, so that increase means they are seeing loan applicants with more-solid prospects going forward.
Why does this news matter? The health of the region’s economy is not just about the numbers. It’s often just as much about the attitude. And it’s clear that optimism is no longer just wishful thinking. •