By Michael Bittel
As we leave 2020 and move into 2021, I believe that everyone in our beautiful region came to the same conclusion, we need each other more than ever. We have been blessed to see and experience collaboration on a scale not seen in our lifetime. Through adversity has come strength, caring and support.
These characteristics not only will continue to get us through this pandemic, but it will carry us to new heights as we look forward into the year 2021.
Let us remember all of the businesses and families effected through temporary or permanent shutdowns of their livelihood. With small businesses being the backbone of our region, this past year has had a profound effect on many long-time businesses, their employees and their families. There are also many businesses who are still open, but whose sales are a fraction of what they once were.
This year brings in a new wave of challenges. Challenges like how fast the vaccine will be distributed. When will we fully open again as a society and economy? How will shortages in sales tax revenue and lower income tax revenue effect local and state government spending in 2021? What regulations will be here to stay or be rolled back once we fully open again?
The year 2021 will also usher in a new wave of opportunities. Opportunities in the form of there being a lot of money on the sidelines. Bank deposits are way up year over year.
We need people to go out and spend money again and spur our economy. When the time is right and we are fully open again, people will get out again locally and spend money to support our region. I know our business community is ready and able to fully open once we are given the go ahead.
Here are some priorities on the horizon for our community.
Childcare provider expansion is a must for our region. We are short staffed in many businesses due to lack of childcare options. We cannot afford any new taxes on our businesses or our families. Now is the time for all levels of government to look at reigning in spending and not raising taxes.
We need our government officials to look at our government spending priorities and spend what we need to do now and put out what we would like to spend in future years.
Our businesses have had to make many painful cuts in employees, salaries and benefits over the past year. We hope that our elected officials can make the same cuts where needed in government, yet fund programs vital to our region.
We do need our elected officials to look at investments that will pay off in the short and long term. A plan and implementation for widespread broadband as well as updated sewer and water infrastructure is a must for us to compete in a regional and a global market.
We are happy to put 2020 behind us.We learned a lot. We came together like never before and we are ready to move forward. Through our continued strength, caring and support for one another we are ready for 2021 to be a year of opportunity.
By Michael Bittel