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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

NKY Businesses Face Challenges With Workforce And Supply Chain Issues

Northern Kentucky businesses are facing challenges as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, but having employees work remotely will not be one of them. That's according to a new survey by the Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-Ed).

Responses from 86 regional business leaders show plans to implement new remote working policies. Northern Kentucky Tri-Ed President and CEO Lee Crume said remote work adds flexibility to the workplace and could be utilized by businesses to save money. However, he notes some details still need to be fleshed out.

"I think this is a very much unsettled question," Crume said. "I think there will be elements of remote; how remote will people be going forward, I think, is just not settled."

Roughly 90% of businesses in the region said they would look at implementing new remote work policies.

Businesses say hiring employees is also a challenge. Crume says companies are realizing they need to do more to recruit talent.

"Companies know they've got to bring people in," Crume said. "I think the clear message that we want to have in the economic development world for our community is we've got to make sure that our community is very open, very welcoming of people coming in."

At least 73% of the survey's respondents are requesting outreach about workforce programs and services. Roughly 16% are creating policies related to employee health and wellbeing.

Supply Chain Shortage

Supply chain issues are also affecting businesses. At least 75% of the survey's respondents said getting materials and rising prices are top concerns, along with the workforce shortage. Crume said when cargo flights were down last year, it greatly disrupted critical shipments.

"You think about companies in our community like Safran or Mazak that are shipping critical components to their clients and when those flights weren't available, the disruption that that created - and not just the disruption, but the driving up in costs, the driving up in timelines of getting things - it is a major impact for these folks," Crume said.

Survey respondents also mentioned the impact of the chip and electronics shortages.

Credit Courtesy of Northern Kentucky Tri-Ed
Courtesy of Northern Kentucky Tri-Ed
Here's a look at the results from the Northern Kentucky 2021 Business Survey.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.