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Brower: Hard economic truth about COVID-19 in Grand

By Patrick Brower Grand Enterprise Initiative
Patrick Brower, Grand Enterprise Initiative

Many of my clients across the county are asking: When will the COVID-19 disruption end?

Of course, I can’t predict the future accurately. All I can do is make some educated guesses. But my educated guesses are based on activities and policies being adopted by some of the bigger corporate and government players in the country. And my guesses end up being not such great news.

And yet, on the other hand, while COVID-19 has been disruptive in Grand County, it hasn’t always been bad for business. In fact, is some regards, it’s been good for business. But restaurants, bars and entertainment venues are continuing to suffer.

Let me explain. I think we are going to be struggling with the direct impacts of COVID-19 until mid-summer of 2021. By direct impacts I mean there will still be limitations on massive public gatherings, close proximity seating at bars and restaurants and public indoor gatherings in general. That’s a guess, but I think businesses should plan on that scenario.

This is because even if there is a vaccine out by the first of the year or early spring, it will be very difficult to get it out to everyone in the U.S. quickly. And the entire vaccine cure-all theory might not be such a cure-all after all considering how viruses evolve, how international politics could muddy the works (China is moving fast on vaccines and would the U.S. beg our new “enemy” for help?), and how misinformation and conspiracy theories could make vaccines worthless because people may be dissuaded from vaccinations by bogus conspiracies. A vaccine works much better for broad societal improvement if a large majority uses it.

So there’s that. And then large tech companies and large finance and banking organizations are planning on implementing new “office” guidelines starting in late summer of 2021. These are companies that live and die off of prognosticating and if they are seeing “normalization” for that time of year then I think that holds water. 

I think in one year from now we might be able to count on some normality, knowing that the new norm won’t be the norm of 2019.

Will there be in the mean-time full lockdowns on our economy? Probably not, especially if we wear masks, socially distance and use common sense. 

But some businesses will be slower and see a lost winter. I hate to say it. 

And yet others, I think, will continue to see some of the recent strongly positive business patterns continue. For many retailers and outdoor recreation providers the last four months have exceeded all expectations. That’s because people are heading outdoors and recreating more. Grand County is a perfect place for that and we will continue to see positive economic impacts from that.

As well, housing and homes and real estate in general will continue to see a boom. People are wanting to outright move to Grand County if not just spend a few weeks more than usual renting and living in Grand County. This has had a big impact on real estate values, rental availability and all the impacts on the market that entails. 

Sadly, all of the above means that employee and affordable housing will be rare and employees themselves will be hard to find — the eternal dilemma for Grand County businesses.

So for now, my crystal ball says COVID-19 impacts will be here longer than I want. Now’s the time to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.


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