Decades of pressure on local economies have been laid bare in a matter of months as the coronavirus pandemic has upended communities and forced wide-spread business closures and disruptions across the country.
But a silver lining to that adversity has been a groundswell of support for local businesses, said Della Rucker, an author, urban planner and economic developer who spoke with AARP Wisconsin during a recent Facebook Live session.
“We are seeing an investment, a determination, an understanding of the value and the importance of local businesses, locally owned and operated businesses,” she said. “Really, what I think we’ve seen is an acceleration of those trends.”
At the same time, Rucker said small and midsize businesses in Wisconsin and across the country are facing pressure from massive corporations that have occupied an increasingly large market share during the pandemic, threatening local producers who were in many cases more heavily impacted by lockdown orders.
“It’s kind of hard not to use Amazon in this world, but that’s had a very, very profound impact on that consolidation,” she says.
Rucker said the pandemic is bringing to the fore economic and community issues that have been slowly bubbling up for years, including issues associated with housing affordability and access to secure public spaces. Although recovering from the pandemic is priority No. 1 for local economies, Rucker warned that many of these issues have been around “for a long time – long before any of us knew what a COVID was.”
Watch the rest of Rucker’s comments on AARP Wisconsin’s Facebook page.
This story is provided by AARP Wisconsin. Visit the AARP Wisconsin page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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