By Mark Green
It didn’t take long for some wit to rewrite the Kentucky state motto: United We Stand – Six Feet Apart. Clever wordplay in response to current events, it shows our common-sense Kentucky optimism in the face of crisis while leaving unsaid what we know in our hearts, the so true second half of the motto: Divided We Fall.
Hard times always pass and even today’s extraordinary challenges will shift into the rearview mirror. When is what we don’t know. Fortunately U.S. and Kentucky economic fundamentals were strong early in the year, before an unexpected COVID-19 pandemic induced shutdowns, economic recession and hardship to avert widespread illness and death — do not forget that that is the alternative. Those financial fundamentals are deteriorating, but their pre-pandemic existence offers reasonable expectation of a post-pandemic rebound.
That is provided we do not replace the first half of the Kentucky state motto. The more united we stand, the better our outcome.
How we manage ourselves individually and collectively is important in determining how soon recovery begins and how strongly it takes place. As Gov. Andy Beshear has been urging and ordering safety measures since pandemic cases began appearing in the state in March, the present is a time for cooperation, for working together and sacrificing together so that we can literally save the lives of fellow Kentuckians.
It’s stressful, it is creating financial loss and pain — a lot of it. But the more we unite, the more we follow the social distancing best practices that are not natural for most of us, the better our outcome will be. It will, indeed, pay off in future dollars to be thoughtful and considerate of one another. The sooner the tide of COVID-19 infection spread is slowed, stopped and reversed, the lower the level of total financial harm and the sooner recovery can begin and the stronger that recovery will be.
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Business activity and jobs and profits will return. They might be different than they were before, but our activity level will be robust
As these comments are being written, health care providers and experts, and public safety officers and public officials are working to contain a still-growing crisis. We owe them our respect, appreciation and cooperation.
Meanwhile, for those of us in Kentucky’s business community, at non-profits and in the public sector that supports it all, it is a time to be creative, to innovate, to find new efficiencies in our altered work situations, to use the impressive technical tools that digital disruption keeps delivering, to invent new work flows to fulfill our obligations and meet the expectations and needs of our customers, our workplace associates and our companies.
We tightened our belts when the Great Recession arrived in 2009, and came out of it changed but in many ways stronger. The economy grew again, although more slowly than some would have preferred, and the markets rose to new heights. In fact, that frustratingly slow, steady growth brought us the longest economic expansion and spectacular bull market in history. That historically beneficial run ended not due to the financial and economic imbalances that usually produce recessions but because of a universal health threat and our choice to value life over profits.
Our collective choices are causing economic pain, but having entered this crisis in a position of strength we can expect to exit this trial and recover strength sooner rather than later. The essential element, though, is to stay committed to being United-We-Stand Kentuckians.
Like you, we are examining our practices and anticipate The Lane Report’s physical platform will grow stronger than ever and our digital platforms will continue to grow ever more vital to Kentucky’s business-to-business community. You rely on us to be your channel of Kentucky-focused best practices, solutions, success stories and information. This is not the Northeast, West Coast or Gulf Coast. We do business with those areas and the entire world, but Kentucky is unique and special, and The Lane Report will keep doing its best to be the commonwealth business community’s most valuable information channel.
The best is yet to come – because we are doing what’s right. ■
Mark Green is vice president editorial director of The Lane Report.