However, labor issues continue to impact many within local communities, as restaurants and shops limit hours based on staff shortages.
New businesses opened across Ross County while unemployment numbers dropped throughout the year.
Growth of small businesses
So what can residents of Ross County expect in 2022? Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce director, Mike Throne, suggests small businesses should expect continued growth in the new year, but adds they will need to compete with offerings from larger corporations.
As 2021 progressed, restrictions lifted and restaurants and shops were able to get back normal with a few adjustments due to workforce shortages.
Among the biggest blows to local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic was the statewide shutdown from early to mid-2020. Restrictions kept some businesses like restaurants from operating fully, while other non-essential storefronts closed for good.
“Our businesses got back to their full capabilities,” Throne said. “They may still be limited by the workforce issues… but I think that part of it was good. We learned to adapt a lot, at least in the first part of the year. I think, generally speaking, that’s very important for us.”
Not only have community staples returned, but local entrepreneurs have used the pandemic as an opportunity
New businesses aren’t just opening in Chillicothe, either, according to Throne. “We’re not only seeing businesses come to downtown, but are opening in different areas,” Throne said, specifically mentioning Deeply Rooted Cafe and their choice to set-up shop in Frankfort. “They could’ve easily come to Chillicothe, but they said we want to be out in Frankfort and we want to start revitalizing that downtown, which has a bunch of open storefronts.”
The reopening of Danbury Cinema in Chillicothe was also a major moment in 2021, Throne said. The theater’s reopening this year and its potential for success could carry over into 2022 as more area residents support local business. “To me it’s very symbolic,” Throne said. “When COVID happened and that shut down, the thought process was almost like ‘can Chillicothe really sustain a theater?’ So to have someone reinforce the belief that that can not only happen, but they are willing to take the risk and make all the moves they made to reinvigorate that space was very important.”
Wage increases and new opportunities As a result of the recent labor shortages, companies big and small increased hourly wages in order to attract new workers.
Throne said the COVID pandemic has caused some to search for other opportunities, either through starting a new business or finding a new job. As a result, he expects the number of new small businesses to increase in the coming year.
“It’s harder for our mom-and-pop places when there are chain restaurants along Bridge Street offering $15-17 an hour. That’s a big deal,” Throne said. “How does the mom-and-pop place downtown compete with the idea that a line cook there… But it’s just a tough, tough market for the small businesses.” While larger corporations and businesses might be able to sustain those prices, Throne said, the real question will be whether local, smaller businesses will be able to compete in the coming year.