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Local businesses are on the road to recovery, survey says

The survey was put together by TAMUCC and the Regional Economic Development Corporation. More than 500 local businesses responded to the survey.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A study is showing that local businesses are on the road to recovery. The survey was put together by Texas A&M Corpus Christi and the Regional Economic Development Corporation. More than 500 local businesses responded to that survey.

When Water Street Oyster Bar was allowed to open its doors back up to customers, owner Richard Lomax said he was eager to get people back in the seats and his staff back to work. His business, like many others, was hit hard by the pandemic.

"We saw our sales drop for that 60 day period about 90-percent," Lomax said. 

The restaurant is among other local businesses on the road to recovery.

Iain Vasey with the CCREDC said the recent survey was conducted with the help of Dr. Jim Lee at TAMUCC. While it paints a picture of a rebound, it also shows concerns businesses still have, like a global recession and supply chain disruption.

"What we found was that 90-percent of companies are back open and servicing customers, but only operating at 80-percent at capacity, not fully recovered, but first steps of recovery," Vasey said. "The other thing we are hearing is that additional unemployment insurance benefits, especially in certain sectors is making it very difficult for certain companies to fill those jobs."

Vasey is talking about the $600 in federal assistance that someone is paid on top of their regular unemployment benefits. In some cases, it's more money than what that person would make while working. The survey found 11-percent of employees refuse to return to work. It's something that is making it hard for employers to fill positions again.

"Right now our biggest bottleneck to getting to 75-percent is staff, which is crazy to say," Lomax said. 

Lomax calls the additional unemployment benefits a double edge sword.

"It puts us in a bad situation where if you can sit on the couch and make what you are making here, you are going to wait til August," Lomax added.

Sterling Personnel Inc. is a staffing agency that has been helping local businesses fill positions for the last 16 years and has also seen the challenges to fill the demand, but it's temporary.

"What we are seeing is a lot of people are seeing that (the benefits) are going to be ending July 31 and they will need to start looking for full-time employment, so when those benefits run out they have a full-time job." President of Sterling Personnel Sharon Kollaja said. 

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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