GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s no secret that local businesses have had a tough time keeping up during the pandemic – from switching entire business models, to supply chain issues and staffing shortages. The Grand Rapids Chamber is holding their annual “State of Grand Rapids Business” meeting Wednesday to reflect on 2021 and forecast how things may shape out in 2022.
The year is starting off pretty strong for local businesses, or at least better than things had been last year for some.
“It’s been really tough,” owner of K-ROK in downtown Grand Rapids Robert Yoon said as he reflected on 2021.
After multiple delays due to staffing shortages, K-ROK opened their doors October 30th of last year. But even then staffing wasn’t where Yoon was hoping it would be.
“We had definitely a staffing problem opening night. But it’s getting a little better,” he said.
‘A little better’ is the theme for the “State of Grand Rapids Business” meeting, where the Chamber will go over the difficulties of 2021 and what businesses can expect through 2022.
“For 2021, I think there was a lot of a learning curve that that was still going on from 2020. But what I can tell you about 2022, and this is what I say to everybody, is I’m very optimistic about what is what is coming down the pike,” Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce retail retention and attraction specialist Rich App said.
The meeting will serve as a gathering place for business owners to discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t.
“There’s so much information out there and it’s constantly changing. We want to provide that information that help support business growth,” Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Johnston said.
At the meeting economists will project a forecast for 2022. Economists like Paul Isely, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University.
“You can really think of  as a pendulum,” he said. “So we really pulled the pendulum really far up, and we’re growing really fast and really hot. And what’s going to happen over the course of the next year is that prices and interest rates and changes in government spending will start to swing that pendulum in the other direction and really start to slow the economy down.”
Isley says he hopes the pendulum doesn’t swing too far back, so businesses can survive the uncertainty’s of COVID-19 in 2022. However, changing gears and adapting is nothing new to resilient business owners like Yoon.
“We just need the support and we want to make you guys happy,” he said.
Yoon and other business owners in West Michigan have high hopes for a great year.
“We made it through 2021. And hopefully 2022 is gonna be a better year,” Yoon said.
The Grand Rapids Chamber 134th Annual “State of Grand Rapids Business” meeting begins at 7am Wednesday at Devos Place.