Economic Forecast Discusses COVID Business Impacts

HYANNIS – The Greater Hyannis Chamber of Commerce recently hosted their Economic Forecast for 2021 in an online format.

Panel speakers included Lisa Oliver, President and CEO of The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod; Kristy Senatori, The Cape Cod Commission; and Sean O’Brien, Barnstable County Health and Environment Director.

Senatori said that the Commission is focused mostly on resiliency planning, and highlighted a number of business recovery initiatives that the organization is involved in such as their dashboard.

“It’s a number of dashboards that provide demographic and economic data for Cape Cod towns, for nonprofit organizations, and for businesses recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19,” said Senatori.

The dashboards include data including populations, demographics, unemployment information, housing, and traffic trends.

Senatori said that the dashboard provides important resources for residents and business owners looking for information when applying for grants.

The commission’s business impact surveys, which looks to collect data from local businesses hit hardest by the challenges brought on by COVID, also have their results posted to the dashboard. 

Senatori said that over 80 percent of businesses in the survey reported losses in the second quarter of 2020, however the summer showed some economic improvement. 

She said that the commission’s new business workshop series were developed in response to the survey, and will focus on providing tools for businesses still hurting because of the pandemic.

Data collected by the commission has also shown that more individuals are staying in their second homes year-round on Cape Cod, or have officially moved to the Cape.

Senatori said that a survey to be sent in the coming months to individuals who purchased a home on Cape in 2020 will research more on housing in the region.

Oliver said that despite initial Paycheck Protection Program confusion and issues, over 7,500 Cape and Islands businesses received nearly $585 million dollars from round one funding in 2020.

“That’s a huge amount of funding and very needed across the country and very welcomed here on the Cape as it kept businesses afloat for us to get into our strong season,” said Oliver.

Oliver said that the government funding protected 62,000 jobs across the region.

Starting in March, new PPP loans will prioritize small businesses through revising the formula determining who gets relief, said Oliver.

Oliver also stressed the importance of double checking emails or other forms of messages that may be scams attempting to make residents part with private information, especially as scams may try to disguise themselves as part of the Paycheck Protection Program or anything otherwise related to loans.

O’Brien said that new daily COVID case numbers and hospitalizations have decreased recently after a long winter of community spread.

With more vaccines arriving for Cape residents, O’Brien said that there is reason to have hope. 

“We’re finally starting to see vaccine coming into the area. I know it’s no consolation, but the fact that we had a vaccine approved in December and we’re putting it into arms in February is a minor miracle all in itself,” said O’Brien. 

He said that a hybrid model will create 5 sites across the Cape region utilizing both county and town resources to administer vaccines, once supply becomes available. 

The introduction of one-shot vaccines such as that from Johnson & Johnson will make vaccination administration easier, as only one appointment must be scheduled instead of the two that are required of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, said O’Brien.

He also said that the Department of Health and Environment will coach industries and staff of businesses in how to make appointments to get vaccinated, when the appropriate phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan begins that makes the individuals eligible. 

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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