By Submitted Story on April 8, 2020
While our nation continues to chart a course through the coronavirus pandemic, we here on the Outer Banks are wrestling daily with the tensions between the priorities of health care and the profound economic impacts of a virtual evaporation of commerce. Many questions remain unanswered on the health care front and an equal number of business questions remain around both the duration and severity of the economic rebound along our shores once the travel confidence of our vacationing public returns.
The hardest business questions remain centered on the comeback–what kind of pent-up tourism demand can we expect in terms of our core economic driver that provides the tax base for our quality of life?
Some optimists suggest something of a V-shape recovery–a short health-crisis interruption and then a quick return to economic vibrancy.
Others suggest more moderately a U-shape recovery–one that returns our visitors more gradually to a normal tourism economy over a period of months and years.
Still others, more pessimistically, offer an L-shaped event in which there is no foreseeable return to economic success at previous levels for a variety of reasons.
The V-shape is, of course, the best of the bad options while the L-shape is the worst option of all the bad economic options. All of this narrows into the palpable challenge of being forced to scale down without any real plan for scaling back up.
No matter the temperament, one thing is certain: Federal support will have to be both massive in its scale and molecular in its impact in order for our community organizations to survive in their current footprint. No organization will be immune from the contagion; our small businesses, our non-profits, our schools, our churches, and our government will all be faced with drastically reduced economic energy. Without the federal government, an L-shaped event is almost a certainty–speed based on education will be the most critical factor here in practically applying the headlines around federal relief packages.
As a region, we’ll have to be deliberate in threading the needle between closing our bridges and yet not burning them–the long-term disastrous economic impacts of an L-shape impact on our lives and livelihoods is something that we can all agree upon.
Planning ahead to the days of a flattened curve–and what to expect from our visitors–will hopefully offer us a guide for many of our hard decisions in the coming days. While the return, regardless of shape, will be just as imperfect as the decline, we are charged to fully understand the long-term impacts of our short-term planning efforts in the face of this health care crisis.
Clark Twiddy is president of Twiddy & Company, located here on the Outer Banks.