CHAPEL HILL –  If you think there’s going to be a return to “business as usual” in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, think again.

A new report issued Tuesday by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC-CH in partnership, with the North Carolina CEO Leadership Forum, is offering up a different view on the ground.

From changes in work, travel and migration patterns, to accelerating shifts toward on-demand and at-home retail, there are major forces in play – seven to be exact – that are reshaping the US economy, the report says.

The seven are:

  1. Changes in work, travel and migration patterns
  2. Accelerating shifts toward on-demand and at-home retail
  3. Onshoring and widening of supply chains
  4. Renewed focus on diversity and dismantling systemic racism
  5. Upending of education and childcare
  6. Shocks to health care and pharmaceutical demand
  7. Risk reassessment by capital providers

“Some of these forces are more pronounced in the near term, as the pandemic directly distorts business activity, but many will permanently alter the economy,” the report says.

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On Tuesday morning, a panel of experts – including Red Hat’s chief people officer DeLisa Alexander and Kenan Director Greg Brown – is set to discuss the ramifications in webinar briefing.

US jobless impact

Source: Kenan Institute

While the seven forces have many unique features, the panelists are expected to highlight their common threads.

“These commonalities will be important to businesses and investors,” the report notes, “as they decide how best to realize the emerging opportunities associated with these forces, from assessing their relative values to understanding how to capitalize on these opportunities with scarce resources and significant competition for talent.”

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The report identified specific opportunities for business and employment growth in the state. That included supporting workforce development through up-skilling, re-skilling, and traditional education.

“North Carolina should build human capital while the labor market is slack,” the report says.

Other recommendations:

  • Implementing an emergency program to employ recent college graduates as K-12 teaching assistants
  • Expanding access to broadband
  • Focusing on opportunities to expand existing businesses

“There is a tremendous set of existing companies operating (and headquartered) in North Carolina and many opportunities can be realized simply by expanding existing operations. Additional near-term emergency support needs to be provided to many small businesses including farmers, minority-owned firms and rural businesses,” the report says.



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