New Year's Eve Update: What Lies Ahead in 2008

The champagne is being chilled for tonight's toasts. Resolutions are being made for the new year. In Washington Business, we're spending the last day of 2007 by taking a look at what local companies in six key sectors could face over the next twelve months in a climate of economic (and political) uncertainty.

*Banking: Things could get worse before they get better for D.C.-area financial services companies, which have been battered by credit market turmoil since the summer. See story.

* Biotechnology: Several local firms will face make-or-break moments during the next 12 months. Some will get final results of testing on products that have been been years in the making. Others will find out whether the Food and Drug Administration has granted approval to their latest treatments. See story.

* Commercial Real Estate: An economic downturn and a tightening of debt markets in 2007 combined to cool off this once-booming sector, and market conditions are not expected to turn around in the near future. See story.

* Contracting: The biggest local government contractors - Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics - enjoyed banner years in 2007, as orders for military hardware continued to boost revenue. But not every contracting firm in the area saw such robust growth, and some have grown more cautious about hiring and more concerned about heightened scrutiny from Capitol Hill. See story.

* Hotels: Marriott International is a bellwether for the entire hospitality industry. The Bethesda company's faltering performance on Wall Street in 2007 has raised concerns about what 2008 holds for it and other lodging businesses - several of which are based right in the Washington region. See story.

* Technology: Local players in the rapidly expanding Web 2.0 space are counting on advertising to pay the bills and vault their businesses into profitability, but the jury's still out on whether that ad-supported model will work as promised. See story.

* * *

And, in other news of local business interest: small firms in Alexandria worry that a newly enacted tax on commercial real estate to raise money for transportation projects could threaten their survival. A similar measure is under consideration in Fairfax and Arlington counties. See story

By Mike Shepard  |  December 31, 2007; 2:04 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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