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Huntsville outpacing rest of country in economic recovery after COVID

Employment in the area has already recovered and the GDP is expected to be back to how it was before the pandemic by the end of this year.

Posted: Jun 29, 2021 10:16 PM
Updated: Jun 30, 2021 12:38 PM

Huntsville's local economy is recovering at a faster rate than the rest of the country.

The Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce says employment in the area has already recovered and the GDP is expected to be back to how it was before the pandemic by the end of this year.

File

About 170 businesses across the county completed a survey earlier this year to give the Chamber of Commerce a glimpse at how they're getting back to normal.

"Every employer at this point has implemented their own version of COVID recovery, and it's very very unique to each employer at this point," Jeff Gronberg said.

He is the board chair of the Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce. He's also the CEO of deciBel Research. He says he's doing everything he can to get back to normal.

"I am going out to my individual employees on a company basis to try to figure out what kind of policies and things we need to put in place to make sure our employees and our business are successful as we come out of COVID," Gronberg explained.

The chamber's survey found 37% of area businesses have returned to in-person working. Eight percent are still working remotely and 17% adopted a hybrid model. However, nearly 30% of all businesses are unsure on when they might return to normal.

"It's hard to prepare for something like this," Joe Francica said.

Francica created the survey and says the results show the city was not only resilient, but responsive during the pandemic.

"We looped in people from the beginning to share information. We had everyone posting to our websites and our social media channels because there was such an influx of information every day. Things changed and developed," Claire Aiello with the Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce said.

Aiello says even the CDC reached out to them to try to bring their model of sharing information to businesses and the community to other parts of the country.

"We as a community. We as a state managed it very well," Lucia Cape said. "It's almost like it didn't happen now."

However, they warn that while it may seem like things are back to normal they're not.

"This is not over. There are communities in the us and countries that are still just completely wrecked by this disease. The new variant is worrisome, especially in communities with low vaccination rates. We are not really done, so the message would be to stay on course and to keep doing things that keep us safe," Cape explained.

It's important to note that your employer can require you to get a coronavirus vaccine because Alabama is an at will state. However, the survey found that most businesses in the area are not planning to require a vaccine to return to work. Only 10% said they are making it mandatory while another 24% were undecided.

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