Business owners react to recession prediction

Updated: May. 26, 2020 at 10:50 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The prediction that Mississippi may not recover economically from coronavirus until 2023 is a hard pill for business owners to swallow.

Some industries are optimistic that the impact will be minimal, while some are facing hard truths.

State economist Dr. Darrin Webb told the Mississippi Senate today that the Magnolia State is entering a ‘sharp, painful recession,’ stating it could be two or three years before we recover.

Brent Robinson, Vice President of Concept Development at the Georgia Blue restaurants, said a three year downturn will no doubt impact eateries around the state.

“It could be a little bit longer than need be, but I think it’s going to depend on what industry you’re in. Make no mistake, there’s going to be a lot of restaurants that don’t survive this,” said Robinson.

The real estate market in Mississippi, however, has been strong through the coronavirus, according to REMAX realtor Lee Garland. There’s been an impact, but it’s far from fatal.

“We’re preparing to have a slower year than normal, but we don’t think it’s going to have a huge long term negative impact,” Garland said. “People have more equity in their homes today than they have in any prior recession or depression in our history.”

As president and CEO of KLLM Trucking, Jim Richards is optimistic. He said the prediction is ominous, but what he’s seeing is much more positive.

“The trucking industry is always known as one of the leading indicators of what’s going on in the economy, we typically feel things first. We see good demand all over the country in the things that we haul, which is a great sign for us,” Richards said.

As for the restaurant industry, facing rising food costs, fewer patrons allowed at once, and having employees who make more money off unemployment than their own salaries are formidable challenges. Robinson said that’s okay. Like KLLM, they’ll just keep on trucking.

“Future is a very relative term. Tomorrow is the future, so right now we’re making sure our staff and our customers are as safe as they can be,” he said.

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