BELLEVUE, WA-An increased number of Puget Sound executives believe that the economy has seen its worst and an improvement is right around the corner, says a recent report by Hebert Research Inc., a local research firm.

The June survey reveals that few executives feel that the economy will get worse and many believe that an economic recovery in the Puget Sound region is close. This is a huge improvement since the December survey, when nearly one out of four executives said that they thought the economy would worsen.

The second quarter optimism is backed by the fact that, excluding construction and real estate companies, the number of layoffs has dramatically decreased and the number of new hires has increased.

Still, several new projects are picking up the pace for construction and real estate labor, as new development continues through the downturn in the economy. A master-planned office, residential and retail project is underway in the Denny Regrade area. The 975,000-sf project, known as 2200 Westlake, will include retail, residential and office space. It is targeted for completion in 2004.

Construction is also under way at the Issaquah Highlands, where a 3.5-mile development will provide a mix of residential, retail and commercial space. Located about one mile northeast of downtown Issaquah, the new development will consist of 3,250 residential units, about 1,500 acres of open space, recreational areas, a 1,000-car Park and Ride, 425,000-sf of retail space, and 3.45 million-sf of office space. This development is slated for completion in 2008.

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