By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University Economics Professor Robert McNab, director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis & Policy, will discuss "The Commonwealth in 2020" at the Science Pub scheduled for Feb. 25 at Maker's Craft Brewery, 735 East 23rd St., Norfolk.

McNab, who along with Professor Vinod Agarwal presented the Dragas Center's annual economic forecast last month, will talk about areas of growth and potential risk for the local and Commonwealth economies, the impact of marijuana reform and other topics.

One factor that could have an economic impact, at least in the short term, is the Coronavirus.

"The spread of the Coronavirus globally is starting to affect economic activity in China, and, by extension, the United States," he said. "We expect that first quarter 2020 economic activity will slow, perhaps significantly, given the disruption in production and supply chains globally. The potential silver lining is that if the virus can be contained, economic growth should rebound nationally in the second and third quarter of 2020."

He believes the local economy is particularly well positioned.

"While the national and Virginia economies have slowed in recent months, the news for the Hampton Roads region is decidedly bullish," McNab said. "Recent increases in defense spending have provided fuel for the regional economy and should boost economic growth in the coming year."

McNab added that Virginia appears poised to join the growing number of states that have relaxed marijuana laws. Along with having an impact on the criminal justice system, this could increase funding for local governments.

"Decriminalization could change the current criminal charge to a civil fine like a parking ticket," McNab said.

Networking begins at 6:30 p.m., with the program starting at 7. The first 20 people to arrive will receive a free drink. RSVPs are encouraged, but not required, by Feb. 24.

Science Pubs are an opportunity for anyone to have casual conversations with ODU researchers in the community. The next one is scheduled for March 31. Robert Bruno and Patrick Sachs, associate professors in the School of Medical Diagnostics & Translational Sciences, will be the speakers.

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