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College of Business and Economic Development

Economic Outlook Forum

The Economic Outlook Forum is an annual event where experts in areas of banking, finance, and academia discuss economic trends and forecasts for the upcoming year. The event is hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi, College of Business and Economic Development.

This year, the event will be held in-person on Thursday, February 23, 2023 at the Thad Cochran Center on the USM Hattiesburg campus.

If you have any questions, please call 601.266.4659. 


Chris SmithChris Smith, Ph.D., C.B.E.
Assistant Visiting Professor, Economic Development
The University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Smith is the Visiting Assistant Professor for Economic Development in the School of Finance at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). Smith teaches and researches in the areas of real estate development and land-use planning; regional innovation systems and technology-based economic development; and regional economic development marketing strategy and planning. Prior to his arrival at USM, Smith served as the Bureau Manager for Research and Data Analytics at the Mississippi Development Authority, where he led a team of research analysts in producing data analysis and research products in support of business state and local business attraction projects. Previously, Smith worked as the Regulatory Policy Associate at the National Defense Industrial Association, specializing in policy outreach and research related to federal policies affecting the health and readiness of the U.S. defense industrial base. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D., S.B.) , the University of Maryland at College Park (M.P.S.), and Cornell University (M.R.P.). Dr. Smith holds a Certified Business Economist designation from the National Association for Business Economics. He lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Gary WagnerGary Wagner, Ph.D.
Acadiana Business Economist Endowed Chair
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Gary A. Wagner currently holds the Acadiana Business Economist Endowed Chair at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In this role, he monitors the region's economic environment, conducts research and analysis, and engages with external stakeholders on behalf of the Moody College of Business and University.

His research interests range from regional economics to state and local public finance issues, with a particular focus on tax structures and economic development, borrowing costs, and pension systems. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 professional articles and reports and has delivered more than 300 presentations to public audiences on national and regional economic conditions. Dr. Wagner served on the Governor's Council of Economic Advisors in Arkansas from 2008-2011, and he is a quarterly participant in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Survey of Professional Forecasters projecting national economic conditions.

Dr. Wagner holds a Ph.D. in Economics from West Virginia University. His professional research has appeared in many leading economics journals including the Journal of Urban Economics, Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, National Tax Journal, Economics and Politics, and Regional Science and Urban Economics. Gary is also editor-in-chief at Public Finance Review and co-editor at Contemporary Economic Policy. Prior to joining the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, he was Vice-President & Senior Regional Officer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Thanh RoetteleThanh Roettele
Managing Director of Mortgage Finance
JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Thanh Roettele has more than 25 years of experience with JPMorgan Chase and currently serves as managing director of mortgage finance for JPMorgan Chase’s Corporate Client Banking and Specialized Industries.

The CCBSI Mortgage group offers independent mortgage companies warehouse lending capabilities and traditional financial solutions. In his role, he oversees the business responsible for coverage of non-bank mortgage, residential and multi-family originators, mortgage REITs, and servicers throughout the United States. The Mortgage Finance team partners with product specialists across the firm to deliver solutions for his clients in areas such as credit, Treasury services, investment banking, asset management and mortgage banking. In 2020, the business funded over $275 billion, approximately 860,000 mortgages.

Roettele holds a wide range of experience working in the financial services industry, including working in portfolio management, risk management, commercial lending, banking and credit analysis.​​​​​​

Chad Miller
Professor of Economic Development 

Dr. Miller is a professor of economic development and the graduate coordinator of the Master of Science in Economic Development program. He works closely with the Trent Lott National Center conducting student-directed community research projects and has conducted more than $3 million of sponsored research. He teaches economic development organization management, research data analytics, real estate development and land use planning, and coordinates the International Economic Development (IEDC) accredited True South Basic Economic Development course.

He has extensive private and public sector experience, including managing shipping and global distribution for American companies based in China and Vietnam. He was also an Army officer stationed in the Pacific Rim. He first became involved with economic development as a trade specialist in Maryland. Prior to joining USM, he worked for the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development. Chad has a PhD from the Virginia Tech Center for Public Administration and Policy, an MBA from Boston University, and a BA in government from the College of William and Mary. 

Adrienne Slack
Vice President and Regional Executive Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, New Orleans Branch 

Slack is vice president and regional executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (“Atlanta Fed”), New Orleans Branch. As part of her role, Adrienne is responsible for the New Orleans Branch Board of Directors, regional Energy Advisory Council, and for providing insight and counsel to the Atlanta Fed’s monetary policy process. She also contributes to the Atlanta Fed’s strategic planning process and advises on regional community and economic development matters, including economic mobility and resilience.

She joined the Federal Reserve System in 1990 with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ economic research department. During her tenure, she served in several national leadership roles, including an assignment at the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. Prior to assuming her current role in 2012, Adrienne was the New Orleans Branch assistant vice president and branch operations officer with responsibility for currency services, law enforcement, and facility and support services. 

Sponsored By: 

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College of Business and Economic Development

3103 Scianna Hall
118 College Dr. #5021
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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College of Business and Economic Development

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Long Beach, MS 39560

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