March News Update from David Jerome, President & CEO of the El Paso Chamber

 In News

A hearty welcome back from spring break; for many of you, the downtime was deserved and welcome. For those that stayed in El Paso, it was, well, dusty!

Nevertheless, we look forward toward summer now; the next several months hold great excitement for the El Paso Chamber. First, I believe we are at the cusp of turning the corner on the pandemic. All indications are that vaccine distribution is about to ramp up and hopefully summer will see a majority of the country and El Paso in particular, vaccinated. Second, I am convinced we will be at an inflection point for businesses to come charging out of the gate, into a revived economy.

I recognize that many in the business community are in the rebuilding and readjusting stage of the pandemic, EPC remains committed to coaching and grant accessibility for these businesses. We are continuing our partnerships across government and the private sector in order to bring businesses to the next launching point.

Several issues are worth considering at this moment and I am pleased that the EPC is situated to provide leadership and support to and for businesses in this next phase. The move to a complete economic and social reopening will require resilience and some relearning. Our trend forecasting highlighted this several months back and our strategy for this year, informed by that intelligence, has been focused on rebuilding and reimagining; now is the time to up the tempo on our strategy.

Businesses have found workarounds to operating during the pandemic, which speaks to the business savvy of our members and our community, but I am urging businesses of all sizes to use some of the current transition time to review and reconsider operating strategies. The EPC has long emphasized trend analysis as a crucial part of business strategic planning and at this moment, I am absolutely certain that is a must. First, businesses need to think about how their supply lines and logistics needs might have changed from a slowed, pandemic tempo to what is about to happen with a complete reopening. Are there new challenges that might impact supply or raw materials necessary for operations? Are their strategies that might help shore up these factors now? Is your workforce ready to operate “as is,” or will you need to add more employees or staff to handle a resurgent economy? Are there workforce retraining or reskilling needs? What lessons in redundancy and efficiency did you learn during that pandemic; is it worth keeping some of those adjusted practices as we move forward? There are countless questions that can be asked, but I think the most important advice I can offer right now, is start facing those questions. While the onset of the pandemic came quickly and legal and legislative restrictions followed, we are now at a unique moment where we know what is coming next and can individually and collectively plan for the next several months, as we turn the corner.

The Chamber is poised to help in a number of ways. We will continue the Business Solutions Center for the near future. Our confidential, personalized support system can offer advice and insight into planning and strategic approaches for operating in a recharged economy. We are prepared to review and critique your strategies for the next phase. I recognize that members and especially business owners know your craft and space well, but what my team can offer is insight into the broader economic landscape, trends, policy issues, and a view on best practices that we have collected through the pandemic period.

As many of you have seen, our legislative videos, featuring conversations with members of the El Paso delegation in Austin, have been covering emerging issues in the Texas Legislature that will impact business and the El Paso economy. Our intent with the series is to bridge the legislative sphere with you, members and business owners, that will be impacted by coming legislation. In the same vein as using trend analysis, we have been pleased to cover ground on a number of issues that will shape how the state economy adapts and grows as we move forward. I am very committed to insuring that our members get as much operational intelligence as possible!

My staff and I are excited about the prospect of hosting you soon, in-person, in the relatively new office space in the Mills Building. The pandemic came on so fast, many of you did not get to see and be in our new home. This is a small piece of returning to where we were before the pandemic, but I am excited to offer the EPC’s insight as much as you need and especially to see you all again, soon!