For many small businesses across the state of Utah — ripple effects of the pandemic are still hitting them hard- with some owners agreeing 2021 is actually worse than 2020.
On Friday, Governor Spencer Cox visited Kaddas Enterprises in Salt Lake City for a roundtable discussion with Utah small business owners to discuss the challenges facing small businesses on the road to recovery, including supply chain issues, access to capital, and labor shortages.
“One of the things government has done is paid people not to work,” said Cox.
Cox said the dichotomy of good business still leaving many hurting more than ever is unique.
“Business is better than ever, we have more demand than ever, and yet, we’re struggling to make ends meet, usually its one or the other but not both of those things at the same time,” Cox said.
Some of the challenges from the pandemic are still lingering, if not even worse today.
“The cost of employment is going up the cost of housing cost of employees, so it’s been hard to maintain good margins on products,” said Spencer Loveless, CEO of Dustless Technologies and Merit 3D Printing.
Finding people to work, battling supply chain issues, and getting access to capital, are all hurting small businesses.
“Small businesses fail all the time and they’re going to continue to fail and some of you may be in that and I know that that hurts, and I hate that but government can’t fix all of that, government is not good at allocating capital," said Cox. "I wish the federal government was here listening, I wish the president was with me today, to understand those decisions they’re making in DC the unintended consequences they’re having on the ground are real.
“One of the reasons were in the problem were in today is that government has tried to allocate capital. I wish the federal government was here listening, I wish the president was with me today, to understand those decisions they’re making in DC the unintended consequences they’re having on the ground are real “We just need people to go to work, that’s the most important piece of this."
While the governor says he’s working to find solutions to these problems, business owners have been finding their own ways to survive.
Kaddas Enterprises is now intentionally carrying three times the amount of inventory they normally would to bypass supply chain issues and to address the work force shortage, now they’ve investing in automation.
For some, this out-of-the-box thinking has led to new business opportunities all together.
“If you can’t get it you, can’t sell hundreds of dollars worth of vacuums, just that little component blocks everything,” Loveless said.
Now Loveless has found a way to cut out the international middleman.
“I can’t get inventory from overseas, how am I going to make it work? Oh, let’s print it, let’s figure out that way to make it work and push through it."
Loveless is not only 3D printing his own vacuum components, but he’s also printing parts for other companies. Still businesses say one of the best ways the governor can help is to give them access to funding now.
“We’ll work to help get them access to that capital, but if we can slow down that inflation, we’ll all be better off,” added Cox.
Cox also mentioned that while Utah’s unemployment rate sits at 2.4%, he’s working on a special project with the University of Utah to find out why people, especially young men, aren’t working.