OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Despite the pandemic causing many businesses to struggle over the last year, Omaha’s economy remains strong, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
“The fact that we were surging with confidence when it was hitting, throughout and of course now that we’re coming out, is a tremendous leading indicator to what we’re experiencing numerically as an economy,” says Todd Johnson, SVP of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Johnson says the local economy now is just as strong as it was prior to the pandemic. Although official numbers of businesses that have opened or closed in the last year are still being process, the Chamber believes Omaha will continue to be a prime location for start-ups.
In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that Nebraska averages 46.4 start-ups per 1,000 businesses, which places us in 17th overall. Johnson says that trend is likely to continue for 2020, 2021 and beyond.
“There’s no such thing as a touchdown dance or a victory through a global pandemic and a lot of great businesses closed and wont come back, but a lot didn’t. And I think the way our anchor companies leaned in on our start-ups and newer companies, you know, we had tremendous campaigns on buy local – retail, restaurant, whatever it may be – we really took care of each other,” Johnson says.
Fatiah, a co-owner of the Naughty Buddha Burger Bar, says Omahans have played a vital role in their success as they opened during the pandemic.
“The community has been, to our surprise, really amazingly supportive of us,” she says.
Despite the summer surge in cases, the vegan burger bar hot-spot was full steam ahead.
“We just figured even with all the negativity and concerns, we could just do something fun and give people a fun healthy option for food.”
Andrew Prystai, the CEO and co-founder of Event Vesta, opened right before the pandemic shut down normal daily life.
“We realized that everything was going to have to dramatically change about our business short of our name,” he says.
Prystai’s start-up, which helps people and businesses find and promote local events, had to make a dramatic shift. Prystai says as part of the entertainment industry, and as a business that helps other businesses, he watched locals evolve to the changes too.
“We leveraged that [new] digital nature and actually built our network out across the entire state of Nebraska as well as into a number of communities across the country which, frankly without COVID, we would have expanded into at a much much much slower rate.”
But a big part of the lasting success and survival of businesses that contribute to Omaha’s economy was caused by you – local buyers.
“I think we know intuitively and we will find out quantitatively, it made a difference,” Johnson says. “There’s a loyalty, work ethic, business ethic to the Omaha culture that is at the foundation of what got us through this.”
Johnson and the Chamber say that the continued support of locally owned businesses is what will help maintain our economic strength, and continue to bring more growth, events, and positive additions to our city.
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