The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of peoples' daily lives, including how business is done. Batesville Leader readers wanted to know how the pandemic affected the local economy – we interviewed Tricia Miller, executive director, Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, via email, to find out. 

Batesville Leader: How many businesses closed last year in Batesville and what types of businesses were they? Also, do you know whether they would've closed due to the pandemic?
Miller: “Most of our local businesses had to close their doors temporarily due to the COVID-19 guidelines last year, but all of them survived and are still in business.  Some changed their businesses to a home-based vs. a [brick-and-mortar] which impacted our downtown. The good news is that the locations are already occupied with another business. We have been very busy in 2021 with phone calls and emails asking about open real estate space in the Batesville area. Our local SBA (Small Business Administration) office also said it's been very busy for them as well.”
Batesville Leader: How many new businesses opened? What types (or industries) were they?
Miller: “We probably had [around] 10 new businesses that opened last year. We had several different kinds of businesses but mostly construction and home and garden businesses due to all the remodeling. We also had new storage facilities open as well. We had individuals that started their own home-based businesses like soaps, candles, flowers, etc. We had a few retail shops, which was great to see. We were very excited that a few of our existing businesses were able to reinvent themselves during the pandemic. For example, our Custom Framing Shop in town added an art and craft section. Another business added a gaming and events area to their downtown business.”
Batesville Leader: What types of businesses struggled the most?
Miller: “No surprises here. The restaurants, bars, hotels, retail shops and salons temporarily shut down or [operated] on limited capacity for most of the year; many workers at these businesses lost jobs. Still, the numbers nationwide are shocking. In December 2020, there were over a million fewer workers in these fields than there were one year earlier. Their biggest struggle now is workforce. They can't get their staff to come back to work. Also, our manufacturing and healthcare industry had a lot of problems with getting inventory and supplies.”
This is the first in a series of articles looking at COVID-19's impact on the local economy – watch for the full series in upcoming editions of the Leader.