Virtual roundtable discussion gives in-depth look at COVID-19’s impact on the economy


(WAVY) — A virtual discussion Thursday between experts in multiple fields was an in-depth look at COVID-19’s impact on our economy.

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner joined economists and others like Brian Ball, the Virginia secretary of commerce and trade, for the discussion, which was hosted by the Institute of Real Estate Management.

“I’m confident we’re going to get through this. I don’t know when the vaccination is going to show up but if we act and behave in a smart way until then we’ll be okay and get through this,” Ball said.

During the conversation, Warner touched on his work to advance economic recovery efforts for communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.  

Warner says he’s working on a multi-billion dollar initiative to help minority-owned businesses who have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic.

He says out of the 2.7 million Black-owned businesses in America, 440,000 have already shut their doors.

He explained traditional lenders have not been the answer.

“It would take that 18 billion wouldn’t take it out of the main street facility put about 3 billion into direct support for Black-owned banks community development financial institutions of which there are 1,100 around the country we’ve got 16 in Virginia, we could use a few more that have a history of lending into low-income communities,” Warner said.

Chief Economist for the Virginia Association of Realtor Lisa Sturtevant says in the long-term she believes we’re going to see some increases in rental vacancy rates and declines in retail renting.

She also mentioned a rethinking of office space — not downsizing, but repositioning during this climate.

She says she’s cautiously optimistic for what’s to come.

“I think this time next year we’re going to be innovative in how we use technology and use of space so we can come out on the other side. We might be doing business a little bit different but we might be doing it stronger, ” she said.

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