EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The pandemic has impacted virtually every segment of the economy at the national, state and local levels. Two state lawmakers from the region will play key roles in determining what the new normal economy might look like.
State Senator John Yudichak and State Representative Aaron Kaufer say lessons learned from the COVID experience just might be put to use in finding that so-called ‘new normal’ in business.
The pandemic did not discriminate when it comes to impacting businesses. Large and small are feeling the effects of the pandemic. And for most, it is having a negative impact on their bottom line.
Enter Senator Yudichak and Representative Kaufer. Both have been appointed to committees that will investigate how the commonwealth can help businesses and help the economy improve. Kaufer is chairman of the House Economic Recovery Task Force.
“The opportunity that lies ahead where we can be doing things legislatively, where we can make strategic investments if there should be dollars from the federal government in order to make sure that we can grow our Pennsylvania economy to make sure we can keep moving forward,” Kaufer said.
Kaufer says it can only be done in a bipartisan way.
“The idea is bringing together the diversity of people across Pennsylvania. Bringing together their ideas and how we can grow our economy, grow the jobs so that we come out stronger than ever out of this pandemic,” Kaufer said.
Senator Yudichak is chairman of the House Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee which oversees many of the commonwealth’s financial agencies such as the Office of Economic and Community Development.
“We are going to put together a stimulus package. We are going to work with our federal counterparts to drive dollars to these businesses so that we get people back to work, get our businesses going again,” Yudichak said.
One of the hardest-hit segments of the state’s economy is tourism which includes restaurants and bars. Ted Wampole is executive director of the Luzerne County Convention and Visitor Bureau.
“There’s so much unknown right now. We’re hoping that things can continue to open up for our restaurants, bars and venues so they can start getting same degree of new normal,” Wampole said.
Larry Newman is executive director of the Diamond City Partnership — a nonprofit that supports businesses in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
“So much of it depends on how much longer it takes us to return to a situation where the majority of consumers are actually feeling comfortable enough to be able to patronize all business types again,” Newman said.
Both Yudichak and Kaufer say they are optimistic that lawmakers in Harrisburg will come together and come up with solutions to the collateral damage caused by COVID-19.