Message to the Community

Message to the Community

We are all in this together – What does that even mean?

We are all in this together – What does that even mean?

 

So much has been written and stated about the economic impact of the COVID -19 outbreak that it seems impossible to say anything new. Our traditional media and social media have most aspects covered. Yet, it is human nature to feel alone. To feel like this is “only happening to me and to my business”. Over the last couple of weeks, I have spoken to many business owners that feel this way. They are creators, leaders, employers and are used to taking quick decisive action to fix things. Yet our current situation seems unfixable, or at least out of anyone’s control to fix. And that goes against every fiber of being for a business owner.

“Comfort in numbers”, “misery loves company”, “we are all in this together”, “stronger together” – these are all statements we have heard all our lives. And until now they sounded somewhat clichéd. Yet, at this time, they may ring a truth that will see us through this. I, you, we, are not in this alone. This pandemic has stopped the economy in its tracks. It challenges our thoughts on independent thinking and actions. It challenges our political views on the role for governments. And it challenges our survival instincts.

This is not an issue we created. It is not a structural economic issue. In fact, the global economy was performing rather well overall. Our investments were increasing, many companies were profitable, and employment and spending levels were trending upwards. So, let’s understand that anything you did, or we did, would not have changed the current situation. This is not an economic issue; it is a health care issue.

Why does this matter? It matters because it likely means that once this immediate crisis subsides, the economy will bounce back quite quickly and quite dramatically. That does not mean there won’t be business casualties. There will be, and certain sectors will recover more slowly. Confidence will need to be restored in safety and health concerns around mass gatherings and the like. But the fundamentals will be in place and many businesses and sectors will be in significant demand.

The fact that we are in this together means that we can, and will, make the structural and political decisions that may seem counter-intuitive yet can only happen when we are in this together.

 

The role for Government

After years of fiscal conservatism - asking our government to live and act within their means - it is now essential that governments spend. It is government spending to shore up the economy and to allow individuals to continue to spend that will help us come out of this with a much greater resilience.  It will also shorten the time it takes to fully come back to a growing economy.

The greatest leadership, entrepreneurial and business-minded thing we can do now is accept help. Let our governments at least lighten the load when it comes to continuing business operations. Let them assist with employment costs such that employees remain healthy both physically and mentally. Understand that you did not create this for your business, and we are all in this together.

Perhaps the greatest business thing we can do is not be trapped by our traditional business ideas. It is time to take a broader perspective and to understand that vulnerability is ok. It may well be the thing that saves our businesses and our society in the long run.

 

In the meantime, what else can we do?

We can think globally (understand that this is bigger than us, than our business, our sector, our province, our country) and act locally. How can our businesses adjust to support our supply chain, our customers, our employees and our neighbours? We can also understand that government policy changes to support industry and human resources and implementation of those changes will take a little time.

We can support local industry where possible. We can assist each other and check in on one another virtually. We can be more attentive to friends and relatives. We can commit to taking care of ourselves physically and mentally.  And, finally, we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable – to not try to have all the answers and to rethink how we might need support ourselves. As we come out of this, and we will; we will need healthy business and community leaders to bring us back to growth.

 

 

 

 

Ron Gaudet

Chief Executive Officer

Economic Development Greater Saint John

 

 

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