I clearly remember not quite a year ago when I picked up a few extra notebooks and headed home to work. Nearly 365 days later, I’m still working from what available space I can find around the house, as is my husband. Working from home is just one part of our lives that has been changed by the pandemic. Some people lost their jobs, shopping habits have changed, and we’ve nixed visits to restaurants and entertainment venues. Many businesses have altered what they were doing to better meet consumers’ needs, while others couldn’t survive the drop in foot traffic and closed. The pandemic is not just a health issue, it’s also been an economic one.
Since the early days of the pandemic last March, New North, Inc. — the region’s economic development organization — has provided businesses and organizations with a steady hand. It has shared resources and information, led regular virtual meetings with regional economic development officials to keep them up to date, provided an outlet to share ideas, and helped bring an upskilling jobs program to life. The past year was not what President and CEO Barb LaMue had in mind in January 2020, but the organization deftly adjusted to the challenges. Turn to page 18 to read my cover story about the role New North has played in helping the business community through the crisis as well as the economic impact the pandemic continues to have on the region.
Positive news on the pandemic front arrived with COVID-19 vaccines, but they also raise a new question for employers: Should they require their workers to get the shot? According to the law, it’s entirely legal, but as you’ll read in my Talent feature starting on page 31, experts say businesses should think carefully before making any decision.
In this month’s Personalities feature on page 10, Jessica Thiel catches up with Christina Singh of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sheboygan County. Singh — a 2020 Insight Women of Influence in the New North Region Award winner — has led transformative change at the nonprofit during the pandemic.
You’ll also find Health Care Heroes, a special section saluting front-line health care workers, including hospital and clinic employees, long-term care center workers and first responders, and providing an inside look at what they have experienced. You’ll find the special section after page 24. Sharing their stories has been a real privilege and inspires a new level of respect.
An extra dose of Insight
Listen to New North, Inc. President and CEO Barb LaMue discuss how the organization worked with its partners to create a free upskilling program for the unemployed and underemployed.
LaMue’s interview is just one of many you will find online at insightonbusiness.com/home/cover-story-videos.