Taking time to figure out what’s next

Posted on May 29, 2020 :: Editor , Editor’s Insights
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

I’m not sure about you, but I have grown tired of the phrase “getting back to normal.” What our region, state and nation have dealt with since March has been jarring. Businesses and schools shut down overnight, millions have lost their jobs and large events, such as EAA’s AirVenture and the Fox Cities Marathon, have been canceled. Whether it’s our behavior or how businesses operate, we have been through too much for everything to return to how it was pre-COVID-19.

As I write this column, Wisconsin no longer has a Safer at Home order in place, and individual businesses and organizations, such as churches and libraries, have either opened or are making plans to reopen. When openings do occur, they will not be “normal.” Social distancing and limits on the number of patrons will be in place at businesses, while employers will need to determine how and when to welcome back their employees who have been working from home.

Industries across the board have been affected by the pandemic, many trying to figure out how to operate when most people are staying home. For this month’s cover story, Associate Editor Jessica Thiel and I talked with leaders from five industry sectors about how they have been impacted by COVID-19 and how their business has evolved. Talking with Joey Reader, owner of A-mazing Events in Appleton, I realized just how much and how quickly her business has had to pivot as people go from attending meetings and events in person to watching them via the internet at their office or home. That alternative may be around a lot longer than most people think. Read more in the cover story starting on page 22.

The dairy industry, which has faced its share of struggles from tariffs to low commodity prices in recent years, is facing yet another challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As restaurants and schools closed, the demand for liquid milk plummeted, sending milk prices even lower. Turn to this month’s Insight Insider on page 29 to read Nikki Kallio’s article on how the industry looks to change its fortunes.

While there has been a lot of less-than-positive news lately, the region got an enormous economic lift when the U.S. Navy announced at the end of April that Fincantieri Marinette Marine was selected to build its new frigate. The deal has a potential economic impact of $5.5 billion, including the creation of 1,000 direct jobs at the shipyard and thousands more at the company’s regional suppliers. Turn to page 14 to learn more about the project’s potential to positively affect the region for years to come.

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Insight Women of Influence Awards

Insight is honoring eight women who are making a difference in their communities at a July 29 virtual event. Beginning at 4 p.m., the event will stream live from Insight’s Facebook page: @InsightPubs. You can also visit the event page at insightonbusiness.com/women to sign up for a reminder and receive a direct link to the livestream.