April 30, 2020

The New Normal – What is Next?

50 plus days into COVID19 and the phrase “This too shall pass.” comes to mind as COVID19 will pass. Not soon enough, but it will pass and we IN Appalachia will survive. We are, after all, resilient, a tough lot with strong roots and a hearty heritage. But just as important, is our need, our desire to forge ahead, find new ways to do things, innovation will continue as the “New Normal” settles in. It will leave its mark on how we look at things and how we do things. Our dependency on the “outside” will ease up as we realize that pulling ourselves up by our boot straps is what we do best. 

People IN Appalachia, as soon as the small businesses reopen, will frequent those small businesses and help them get back to “Normal”. Neighbors helping neighbors. Businesses will help each other as they learn to depend more on the IN Appalachia supply chain for goods and services. You see, it turns out, we make a lot of things here. We provide a lot of services here. And this region is known for its ability to take very little and turn it into a lot. The ability to adapt to what is quickly needed has been demonstrated in our region as many businesses are making goods and providing services that are COVID19 driven. And they did it without government saying you had to. They just did it because it is the right thing, the logical thing and it makes good business sense to do. 

This region is more diverse in what it produces than most people realize. Agriculture, farming, manufacturing to name a few. Let’s take advantage of that and improve our lot in life. If we IN Appalachia help each other grow from within, we will be stronger for it. A recent study revealed that there are over 20,000 corporations, LLC’s and LP’s in Southwestern Virginia. This does not take into account all the sole proprietors. Imagine if just half of those businesses needed to each hire one new employee. The reality is we would be hard pressed to find 10,000 new employees. This would be a great problem to have and we are confident it could be solved because that is what we do IN Appalachia. 

Where will the workforce come from? When you ask younger people if they want to leave to find a job, most say they would rather stay. Let’s make a way for them to stay by growing from within and create jobs with our existing businesses. This will slow the declining population problem. 

Do we hope to be saved by the “outside”? I don’t think so. The answer lies here IN Appalachia with the hard working, smart, innovative people that want to be self-sufficient. There are many local and regional resources that can help businesses grow organically, from within and become stronger. Businesses need to take advantage of these resources to help them grow in a logical and sustainable manner. As we move in that direction those on the “outside” will look at a strong and organically grown economy and think, this region has it together. Perhaps they will want to be a part of a forward thinking, resilient, self- sufficient and innovative group that will gladly welcome all who come to grow IN Appalachia. 

This is the second of a series that will discuss what we will look like IN Appalachia post COVID19. Your comments are welcomed.