A Message on Optimism

To our Visionary Members,

Optimism. Let’s hold our heads up, take on the challenges of living in the age of COVID-19, and look to a strong recovery. The Harrisburg Region of Dauphin, Cumberland, and Perry counties, along with our similarly sized neighbors in Lancaster and York counties are among the strongest, steadiest micro-economies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States.

While complying with the business and social distancing protocols, we need to look ahead to a strong and relatively quick recovery. Consumer spending in the United States accounts for roughly 65% of the U.S. economy. We know consumer spending is way down. We can only spend so much with takeout food, groceries, and other necessities. This will come back. Construction jobs, currently shut down with some exceptions, will come back making up for lost time, and people will return to work. We will see a positive economic bump when life returns to generally normal times, not to where we were, but clearly much, much better than where we are.

Some of the COVID-19 models we have seen expect the crisis to peak in areas of the country in mid-April through early May. We will need to continue to maintain social distancing and extend business closings through the peak to prevent a second wave of infections. With luck and strict adherence to directives from the State and Federal Government, perhaps in late May or early June we will start to see a return to a more normal life.

The important thing to remember is we were in a strong economic cycle when COVID-19 hit. When life and business return to normal, we should have all the attributes for a strong economy. A U.S. Chamber economist described our collective situation very early in the crisis as a V-shaped economic event. Business and consumer spending have stopped more like a very, very long snow storm in stark contrast to the economic conditions of the Great Recession we lived through in late 2008 and subsequent years. I do believe the crisis will last a couple of months yet vs. weeks, but we will and we can get there.

Many people continue to work. Working from home, conference calls, and video meetings are the new normal. The federal stimulus packages have provided relief to the unemployed in increased benefits and eligibility. The use of technology has increased. We visit with friends and family via video calling apps. I had a delightful experience late last week, a Friday virtual happy hour with a few friends. There’s nothing wrong with a little joking and mindless banter with occasional moments of clarity. It was refreshing— a short visit to better times, but more importantly a reminder of better times to come again.

So let’s keep our heads up and our eyes on the ball, but also look ahead to those better days to come. The Chamber & CREDC is here to help us get there with good information, pragmatic suggestions for businesses and people and available tools to help businesses get through this, along with a healthy dose of unabashed optimism. Be safe, be healthy.

-Dave Black,
President & CEO