McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

Come to Sway, Be Swayed (Sponsor Letter)

Posted online

The Springfield Business Confidence Index is at an all-time high this year, recovering from a deep dive in confidence in April 2020 when we last surveyed Springfield area business leaders.

Is it any wonder we feel more optimistic now?

PPP and other federal programs helped thousands of businesses keep people employed and companies operational. Gross domestic product remained stable. Direct stimulus checks to individuals benefitted consumer spending, increased personal savings and reduced credit card debt. State and local tax coffers remained healthy. Despite extraordinary suffering in 2020, overall our economy survived and, in some ways, thrived in the short term.

However, when taking a longer view, it’s likely going to negatively affect us, and we need to prepare as individual companies and as a community. Monetary policy always changes inflation, but it’s happening in a unique way that I can’t recall we’ve ever experienced. Hyperinflation is hitting specific sectors that weren’t necessarily hampered in 2020 – such as materials and construction. Those industries had record years because of the influx of cash into the economy. This is resulting in significant cost increases which will force inflation into other sectors. For this reason and many others identified in the Economic Growth Survey data (workforce, workforce, workforce), the stakes for us to work together are greater than ever.

Each year since partnering with Springfield Business Journal in 2019, I’ve been excited about the data. No other local data exists like this and most communities don’t know the pulse of their business community like we do. That alone gives us an edge over other regions. And Springfield’s special secret sauce has always been our longstanding tradition and ability to collaborate, which is what makes the Economic Growth Survey forum discussions so unique. The open dialogue, questions and debates among all participants in the in-person discussions will help all of us grow our businesses as we grow our community.

So I personally invite you to bring your opinions, knowledge and questions to the next five forums. The forums are a variety of group discussions, participant input, interviews and topic presentations. I think Jeremy Burcham of Meridian Title Co. puts it very well, saying these forums are “your opportunity to sway or be swayed on what you think the data means.” You will hear other people’s perspectives on the data, what they are facing, what their projections are and possible solutions to the challenges we face individually and collectively.

These are the most valuable community think tanks you will participate in this year. Mark your calendars and reserve your seats now!