As you read this, New Jersey likely will still be dealing with an overwhelming healthcare crisis as cases of people with COVID-19 continue to mount. For weeks now, healthcare workers have valiantly tried to help more sick people than they could have ever been prepared for, and we all pray that this pandemic will have run its course soon and bring some relief.
I cannot begin to express how proud I am of our member companies and the way they have performed through this crisis. Thousands of businesses were forced to close or operate remotely to prevent the spread of the virus, yet many maintained a commitment to pay their employees even with little or no revenue coming in and before any government programs were set up to encourage or help them. Business owners even retooled their operations to make clothing and equipment to help fight the virus.
Protecting employees and the public health continues to be the first priority for the state. That does not mean we can afford to ignore the economic impact of what is happening in New Jersey, the nation, and across the globe.
The time will come, hopefully soon, when we will have to confront the post-coronavirus economy and what we need to do to recover.
This presents unique challenges. For one, our economy has never felt this level of disruption before, so there is little in the way of best practices and not much to learn from mistakes of the past. The best we can do is examine the Great Recession, but even then, the economic contraction was the result of a collapse of our financial system. Before the pandemic, our financial system was intact and functioning.
One thing we should not do is count on the economy bouncing back all by itself.
To that end, the nation should have some sort of head start. The $2-trillion stimulus package enacted in late March was designed to put as much of that funding into the economy this year as possible. It has helped businesses continue to pay employees and helped healthcare workers finance treatments. These programs will keep money flowing into the economy while so much of our typical business activity has stopped. Had it not been for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act, we would be in an even deeper economic hole than the one we’re in now.
The CARES Act was not the first response from the federal government and likely will not be the last. In fact, the CARES Act wasn’t even a week old when Washington began discussing response No. 4.
New Jersey will need to go through a similar process. NJBIA has already engaged with Gov. Phil Murphy’s team and the Legislature to develop what a post-coronavirus New Jersey should look like when the state turns the corner and begins to responsibly reopen the economy. NJBIA will continue to be a big part of that conversation, and so I am inviting you to tell us what you see as the challenges and opportunities ahead.
NJBIA has always relied on its member companies to guide us in setting policies. Your guidance has never been more important than it is now. When you are no longer just struggling to get through this, I need you to look out on the horizon of your business and tell me what you see and what you are going to need to bounce back. Please e-mail us at Government_Affairs@njbia.org.
The coronavirus pandemic is such an unprecedented event that there is no way to know what the future will bring when it’s over. All the more reason for us to start making plans now to shape the economic future in a way that allows New Jersey businesses to thrive in a post-coronavirus world.
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