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Webinar analyzes economic impact of the coronavirus in Virginia, locally

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Published: Jun. 10, 2020 at 6:47 PM EDT
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In a webinar put on by the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance Wednesday afternoon, the economic impact of COVID-19 was the hot topic.

According to data from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Lynchburg region was one of the best performers in terms of retaining jobs.

In the Lynchburg region, just under 15 percent of pre-pandemic jobs were lost.

Stephen Moret says the use of paycheck protection program loans has made a difference.

"We did particularly well in the first round," said Moret, President and CEO of VEDP. "I think that's because many Virginia companies and many Virginia banks were better-positioned, just ready to go to kind of get their act together and get it done."

But not everyone fared so well.

Food prep and serving were two of the biggest occupations hit by the pandemic.

VEDP's data say combined, over 90,000 Virginia unemployment claims have come from those jobs alone.

Moret says support targeted at businesses like these - where social distancing can hurt their sector - would help going forward.

"So I think thinking about what we can do to help businesses that will continue to be impacted severely by social distancing to be able to stay viable long enough for us to get to a vaccine or get to a point that people feel more comfortable," said Moret.

Overall, projections suggest it could take another year to recover 50 percent of the jobs lost here in the commonwealth.

A 100-percent recovery might not come until 2023.

"We really need to step up and put Virginia into a more competitive position from an economic development perspective," said Moret.

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