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The United States economy is doing well because for the first time in many years all five regions of the country are reporting increases in the economy, according to Jeff K. Thredgold, senior vice president and chief business economist for Key-Corp.

He said the economy's "soft landing" is here as economic growth slowed to an estimated 2 percent to 3 percent in the first quarter of 1995. That follows a 4.1 percent growth rate in 1994, the best performance in 10 years. He said the chance of a recession is 1 in 10.Speaking during a forum sponsored by Key Bank of Utah in Little America titled "Big Issues for Small Business," Thredgold said the addition of 3.5 million net new jobs in 1994 should give way to more moderate job creation this year.

He said the national deficit in 1990 was a record, quickly followed by more records in 1991 and in 1992 reached $292 billion. In succeeding years the deficit has slowly grown smaller and in this fiscal year it will be $175 billion.

Thredgold warned against putting deficit reduction "on the back burner" because it is projected to be higher in coming years. He said the national debt is nearing $5 trillion and every day the country must pay $750 million in interest on that debt.

As the national economy continues to do well, it is apparent the demand for educated people will increase, he said. Thredgold said the marketplace rewards vocational and technical education, and those with computer skills earn 15 percent more than workers who don't.

Ross E. Kendell, chairman and chief executive officer of Key Bank of Utah, said competition with other banks is healthy for the economy, and in his 38 years with Key Bank and its predecessors it is obvious the bank will "live and die on how well we take care of our customers."

Lt. Gov. Olene Walker said the majority of jobs that will be created come from small business, which has made the economy boom in Utah. "We are fortunate to live in Utah at this time and to have Utah the No. 1 state in the percentage of increase in jobs created is amazing," Walker said.

Lorraine Miller, owner of Cactus & Tropicals, who was named the Small Business Administration's Small-Business Person of the Year in 1994, said Key Bank employees have gone extra miles to help her over the years when she applied for SBA loans.

Miller said there is talk the SBA might be changed in many ways. Saying she wouldn't be where she is today in the business world without SBA-guaranteed loans, Miller asked her audience to write to Utah's Congressional delegation to head off attempts to scuttle the SBA.

Richard L. Nelson, president and chief operating officer of Key Bank of Utah, said KeyCorp, his parent company, held a conference on small business in March in Washington, D.C.

Emerging from the conference, said David H. Green, senior vice president and manager of small business banking, was a survey which showed that in recent months more small-business owners are changing their attitudes about where the country is going.

Green said 22 percent of the people responding said government regulations are the most important issue facing small busi-ness, 15 percent believe taxes are the most important and 11 percent focused on hiring qualified people.