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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Did Pandemic Harm Valley More?

Have the economic lockdowns hurt Valley area’s economy more or less than other regions of the state?That’s a question that’s been on the minds of many local people in recent months. The answer? Well, the state and county’s lockdowns certainly hurt. A good number of businesses, particularly small and retail-oriented ones, are no longer going concerns. Office landlords and shopping center owners are among those queasy about the immediate and mid-term future.On the other hand, what few telltale signs we can see appear mostly bullish. Traffic is back (sigh), implying that economic activity is brisk. Home sales are up, along with house prices. Savings have soared and people appear ready and confident about spending money. But bottom line, were we hurt more or less? The David Nazarian College of Business and Economics at California State University – Northridge was the presenting sponsor of the Business Journal’s CFO / HR Awards event last week, so I took the liberty of asking that question – have we been hurt more or less? – of Chandra Subramanium, the dean of the college.

He suspects, alas, our area has been hurt more. That’s because 20 percent of adult Angelenos describe themselves as self-employed. That’s much higher than the state as a whole (14 percent) and the nation (11 percent). Since smaller businesses got disproportionately roughed up by the pandemic-inspired lockdowns, it stands to reason that our area, heavy with self-employed people, would suffer more.I must point out that, of course, we don’t really know yet. That’s because various economic numbers haven’t yet been tallied and analyzed.

This is a good place to point out that the Business Journal’s Valley Economic Forecast breakfast is scheduled to be held in November. By then, enough numbers will have come in to give economists a good read on how the Valley economy fared in comparison with other regions of the state.

• • • The aforementioned CFO / HR Awards event last week was a particularly interesting one. That’s because our financial officers and human resource professionals were put to the test because of the pandemic.Many of them embraced the challenge. Some CFOs took it as an opportunity to make needed changes to bolster their company’s systems while some HR professionals created ways to keep their colleagues engaged and motivated. Petra Hatzesberger, the head of people and culture at Mission Valley Bank, for example, offered all employees an app for meditation, exercise and stress relief. And Elizabeth Salazar, the human resources director at Antelope Valley Hospital, worked extra hard to attract and retain employees – critical for a hospital in a pandemic.We gave awards to 10 local standout executives. You can read more about them in this issue of the Business Journal.

Charles Crumpley
Charles Crumpley
Charles Crumpley has been the editor and publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal since March 2016. In June 2021, it was named the best business journal of its size in the country – the fourth time in the last 5 years it won that honor. Crumpley was named best columnist – also for the fourth time in the last 5 years. He serves on two business-supporting boards and has won awards for his civic involvement. Crumpley, a former newspaper reporter, won several national awards and fellowships for his work, and he was a Fulbright scholar to Japan.

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