The COVID-19 pandemic may be subsiding, but for many small businesses in Nebraska, a certain amount of uncertainty remains, Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, told The Center Square.
One issue is the liability businesses might face for COVID-19.
“Congress did not pass any COVID liability protection,” Slone said. “As businesses reopen and re-engage over the summer and they are bringing their employees back, there is still this concern about litigation over COVID.”
States, including Nebraska, are considering liability protection legislation but a national bill is also needed, Slone said.
“Since so many businesses operate in multiple states, it would be even better to get federal legislation,” he said.
Two of the hardest industries, retail and travel, are nervous about getting consumers to return to shopping in stores and staying in hotels, Slone said.
“That’s really a question of how soon the consumers feel safe,” Slone said. “That’s really important to the recovery. Businesses are going to do everything they can to make their places safe for consumers. I do believe consumers will come back. It’s a question of how fast.”
Nebraska businesses had lower expectations for the economy in February than they did the month before, according to a survey by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Businesses’ expectations index dropped from 119.3 in January to 111.7 in February, Eric Thompson, director of the university’s Bureau of Business Research, told The Center Square.
The overall Business Confidence Index fell to 97.1 in February from 105.9 in January.
Another concern of businesses in Nebraska, is finding enough workers, Slone said. Immigration reform would help, he said,
“Most business people would say we need secure borders, but we need a legal immigration process to provide a much larger capability to bring skilled labor into the country,” he said. “We have literally tens of thousands of jobs in Nebraska today that simply aren’t staffed because we don’t have people.”
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