If nothing else, Thanksgiving 2020 was memorable. It’s normally my favorite day of the year because I love cooking for a crowd. We normally have around 20 people over for dinner, but that did not seem like the wise thing to do this year. But we still wanted to celebrate the day with a small number of our family so we had a very 2020 experience: We ate in our garage with the door wide open. My wife and daughter did an amazing job of transforming an ordinarily dirty and dingy spot into a comfortable and festive environment. Combined with an unseasonably warm day, we ended up having a great time. Like most of the rest of the year, ourThanksgiving theme was to pivot and make due.
It was a hard year for many to feel thankful given all that has happened. I am not trying to gloss over those pains and struggles with an article pointing out some positive things in our region. Maybe it was that so much else about the day was stripped away that I had a chance to be more reflective. Below are some of things for which I am particularly thankful.
Recovery – Good news is good news: The day before Thanksgiving, the state released it’s county level unemployment data for October. The regional unemployment shrunk to 5.4%. We had more people report that they were employed (172,227) since March (164,964), a month in which the unemployment survey was conducted before the major shutdowns. We have a long way to go but it is nice to see the arrow continuing in the right direction.
Optimism – It appears that Congress is close to a deal that will provide some additional financial relief in the wake of continued economic hardship. I am optimistic that small businesses will get a healthy measure of assistance in this bill.
Cooperation – Economic development can often be a competitive industry, even within a region. But I have seen some tremendous cooperation and selflessness among the professionals in our region recognizing that none of us are successful if we are not all successful. I have seen staff from one municipality agree to help a neighboring community apply for a state grant. I have seen professionals from across the region work together to solve a problem and share each others’ good news. This spirit of regionalism will be a key to full recovery.
Resilience – Despite the odds, I continue to see the steely nerve and ingenuity of individuals and our business community throughout this crisis. Restaurants have figured out new dining models. Independent retail shops have launched e-commerce platforms. Nonprofits and entertainers have figured out how to capitalize from virtual platforms. Moms and dads have figured out how to simultaneously be stay-at-home employees and on-call teacher aides. It is this resilience that will see us through this crisis.
For nearly all of us, 2020 cannot come to an end fast enough. Lodged amongst the struggle are rays of hope. As we approach the end of the year, I hope that you all find a way to connect with friends and family, most likely in new and odd ways, to celebrate the good things and look forward to a near year. From all of us at Greater Peoria EDC, Happy Holidays.