The economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic are already being felt across the state and Bent County Economic Development Executive Director Sammie George recently spoke about the local impact.

For the past few weeks George has spent time attending many different conference calls and has done a lot of research on how the county will feel the impacts of the pandemic. One thing she brought up was how other states and places' economies have been impacted by things like natural disasters.

She said that around 40% to 60% of businesses that close during a natural disaster are never able to open again. Which is why she spoke to the importance of businesses adapting and pivoting during this period to stay afloat.

In fact those that pivot and adapt to the current circumstances could come out of this pandemic stronger. She said that some businesses that were trending up and adapted during a natural disaster experienced a boost in their business when the dust settled.

Part of the reason for this according to George was that it made the business more dynamic because they added in additional services. One example she included and could be applied to local businesses in the county were restaurants adding delivery options.

Another positive impact could be the increased online presence of businesses during this time for those who otherwise wouldn’t have ventured into that area.

“You have to have an online presence nowadays,” she said.

And with more and more businesses starting to develop that skill they will be able to more effectively adapt to technology advancements in the future. Which for things like online delivery and takeout for restaurants could prove to be beneficial for years to come.

Some businesses at risk according to George are those who were trending downward before the pandemic and may not have enough operating costs on hand. She said that some of those businesses may not reopen affecting the community on many different fronts, including the city and counties tax base.

Helping these businesses and other’s around the county is a major priority for George, which is why the Counties decision to declare a State of Emergency was important. Because it will open up funding for the county in the future by way of reimbursement for lost resources and potentially stimulus packages.

She added that there hasn't been a lot released on what they could receive but when they do get more info she said they will jump to take advantage of it. In the meantime she stressed the importance of continuing to support local business any way you can.

“We ask these businesses for donations and we should pay them back,” she said.

She said you can do this not only by buying from them but by also purchasing things like gift cards that will help businesses immediately even if your need to purchase isn’t an immediate concern. If you have trouble figuring out which business or businesses to support she said to go with what feels good.

Another thing she stressed is that people stay up to date with the Bent County Public Health because this is a high at risk population. And to be very intentional on what information they focus on by making sure they stay up to date with credible news sources.

For more information about resources for employers and workers who may be out of work during this time you can visit colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/information-and-resources-coronavirus to learn more.

jconlan@ljtdmail.com