Economist, business leaders share outlook at annual Brazos Valley Business Summit

This was the third year for the business summit.
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 7:10 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 7:26 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - We’ve seen how local businesses have been hit hard during the COVID -19 pandemic.

On Friday, local business leaders and economic experts met for the third annual Brazos Valley Business Summit.

A socially distanced summit filled the ballroom at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center. There was a lot of discussion on the impacts small businesses are seeing.

“You look at the fact that in the last seven months we’ve had more bankruptcies filed than we’ve had since the Great Depression. Our economy has been in an absolute free fall. Unemployment has absolutely exploded," said Flip Flippen, founder and chairman of the Flippen Group.

“Small business is the absolute vital cradle of job creation. It’s the cradle of a lot of creativity for the economy. It’s going to look different going forward," said Economist Ray Perryman, Ph.D. He’s the President and CEO of the Perryman Group in Waco and said long term recovery looks good, but there are many challenges ahead.

Local unemployment continues to fall. In July, it reached 5.2%. In June it was 5.7%. The current statewide average is 8%. Nationally it was 8.4% for August.

“The economy’s been hit very hard this year. We’ve made some comeback now. How much of a comeback we can make in the future is going to depend a lot on how well we can control the virus and what the new response is in Washington," said Perryman.

“The resiliency of the Brazos Valley and the resource we have with those institutions of higher learning like Texas A&M University, as well as Blinn, really give us such a competitive edge over a lot of other communities," said Matt Prochaska, Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation President and CEO.

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs says Texas A&M will be a major part of economic recovery statewide.

“Institutions like A&M play a vital role in our state success by helping to educate the workforce of the future and providing a quality education alongside a reputation that employers have come to trust and respect. A&M actually contributes and has an economic impact of about $3 billion to the State of Texas," she said. Hughs also talked about the Census deadline being extended by another month and encouraged full voter participation in November.

”The most important thing we can do right now for all our economy is to get this virus under control and take the steps we need to take everyone needs to be cautious," said Perryman.

Perryman added that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted small businesses with one in six saying they can’t come back right now and need help.

“We need some additional aid for some small businesses and individuals and some key industries and that kind of thing," said Perryman.

This year’s summit had the highest attendance. In all, 216 people registered for the event.

We have the latest economic indicator data here.

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