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Boosting business will be big job

Just how much has COVID-19 impacted the private sector over the last 14 months? A recent Report on the Economic Recovery Business Survey, released last month by the state House Republicans, finds a spectrum of challenges for all companies and shops.

Unsurprisingly, one of the sectors to be the largest respondents were the food and dining firms, which temporarily closed or had changed their model almost at the drop of a hat once the pandemic began last March. The survey also offers insight into one of the biggest obstacles at the moment: those who are not employed.

There’s a number of reasons for this, including an additional federal benefit for those collecting unemployment insurance. That leads to this challenge facing many seeking workers.

“In addressing employment issues, many business owners reflected on their inability to find qualified employees,” the survey found. “A skilled labor force is a top concern. Many also expressed the challenge in getting people to come back to work during a time when the federal government has increased unemployment compensation payments.”

Some other key findings include:

¯An overwhelming 31% of respondents indicated the biggest challenge facing their business was Gov. Tom Wolf’s mitigation orders.

¯191 respondents (21%) indicated financial issues and hardships were their greatest challenges.

¯A plurality shared the need for financial assistance was the greatest assistance requested by business owners.

¯30% of respondents who shared financial assistance was their greatest request, also shared Governor Wolf’s mitigation orders are the biggest challenges facing their business.

¯Tax reductions were the most often provided response on what change would have the greatest impact on a business.

¯ While 28% of respondents indicated tax reductions would have the greatest impact on their future success, another 22% of business owner respondents said their future success depends upon the Commonwealth removing restrictions and allowing them to fully open for business.

¯Nearly a third (32%) of all respondents suggested the best way to kickstart the economy was for them to be open for business.

¯Another 12% of respondents shared that financial assistance was needed to kickstart the economy.

¯ Nearly half (49%) of all respondents fell into one of five business categories: food and dining businesses, health and medicine businesses, construction and contractors, manufacturers, and personal care and service businesses.

For the most part, the public sector — through federal COVID relief packages — have weathered an unthinkable storm. But Pennsylvania’s business community — it’s lifeline — will likely need more assistance. That will have to include residents getting back into the workforce — and residents supporting small business.

John D’Agostino is the editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and Times Observer. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.

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