Has Covid-19 Triggered a 'Cataclysmic' Crisis? Muskoka Business Owners have 2 Major Concerns

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Agatha Farmer

The Covid-19 pandemic has sent global and local economies into a tailspin. The sudden shut down of businesses from one day to the next is the stuff of nightmares for self employed owners.

In a recent article the World Economic Forum refers to the unprecedented economic stoppage as a crisis.

"This crisis will catalyze some huge changes. Few industries will avoid being either reformed, restructured or removed. Agility, scalability and automation will be the watchwords for this new era of business, and those that have these capabilities now will be the winners."

Agility, scalability and automation are all words which clearly underline and point to a shrinkage in our business world and as result job elimination in some industries. The article goes on to highlight the lasting impact this pandemic might trigger.

"To create long-term resilience we will likely see further robotic automation and artificial intelligence (AI) within our supply chains. These technologies reduce manual intervention and hand-offs, cutting transmission risks, and reducing the reliance on humans to work face-to-face. They can also enable production to scale and shrink in response to sudden demand."

Much along the same grim context Peter S. Goodman wrote in a New York Times article that "the abrupt halt of commercial activity threatens to impose economic pain so profound and enduring in every region of the world at once that recovery could take years. The losses to companies, many already saturated with debt, risk triggering a financial crisis of cataclysmic proportions."

Just a few days before the publication of that article on March 27 economic author Adam Tooze tweeted the following;

"The current index of economic policy uncertainty is like nothing we have ever seen before and we have to say that in a strong sense: not like 2008, not like 9/11, not like 1997/8 or 87."

Given the uncertainty of a post Covid-19 business world Muskoka Post reached out to the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce for a glance into the Muskoka merchant mind set during this time of change. Within the last month most municipal commerce chambers have sent out surveys to local businesses to ensure assistance feedback is received.

Brenda Rhodes, Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said their survey "indicated that there are still businesses who do not qualify for supports and we are ensuring the 'gaps' are being relayed to the appropriate levels of government."

Rhodes went on to explain that Muskoka business owners have two major concerns.  

"First, they are nervous and still trying to adjust. They are trying to figure out what the next 30-60-90 days look like. They are evaluating if they qualify and how to apply for government funding that is being announced on a daily basis. Second, they are investigating ways to alter and diversify their businesses to reflect the current situation and evaluating what could be done to accelerate their business into the future," said Rhodes.  

Rhodes said the Bracebridge Chamber is advocating for its members in the following ways: 

  • "We are working with Muskoka Futures, Muskoka Lakes Chamber and the District of Muskoka and possibly FedNor to see if we can create a local loan program to support businesses who are currently not able to receive supports.

  • We, along with the above mentioned group and others, have also started the conversation with the District of Muskoka to be the lead in the Economic Recovery Committee that could create a Muskoka wide recovery plan. This will unify messaging and create a robust recovery plan (when we get the direction from the Province/Feds)

  • We are sharing the results of the Survey with Federal, Provincial organizations who are driving programs, Bracebridge's Economic Development Team, the Bracebridge BIA, Muskoka Futures and other organizations to help them make decisions.

  • We are in communications with the Canadian Chamber and relay concerns and gaps to them to help arm them when they are advocating with the Federal Government.

  • Ensuring accurate, concise and timely information is being communicated to our Members to help them navigate the programs and resources out there.  

  • Curating webinars and other tools that can help them understand their position, possible adjustments that could be made and how to move forward into the future. 

  • Staff (Marny and Brenda) are here to support any business who may have questions or are in need of support. Call 705-645-5231"

Rhodes also noted that "both the Fund and Economic Recovery Committee ideas were discussed at District Council last night. It was agreed upon to have the Finance and Corporate Services Committee come together to discuss and evaluate if something should move forward. We have made it very clear that time is the major factor for the businesses who at this moment don't have financial support coming from other levels of government."

If you are an owner of Muskoka business that is currently shut down and would like to share your story or your future innovation plans please reach out to us at muskokapost.com.

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