Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance CEO Ryan McCrady believes that a “Roaring Twenties” style economic rebound is not only possible but that the Springfield region is well-positioned to thrive as a result.
Historians have already found many comparisons between the 1920’s Spanish Flu and the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, researchers are also seeing evidence that a similar economic boom that happened after the Spanish Flu, known as the Roaring Twenties, might also repeat itself. The difference this time is there are economic safeguards now in place to prevent a similar subsequent downturn such as the Great Depression. McCrady notes that historically low-interest rates, individuals having more unspent cash and savings as a result of the pandemic, and a renewed determination to return to normal life, will drive the recovery.
“If you look back in history at the Spanish Flu and the Roaring Twenties, a lot of people believe part of that was the pent-up demand,” said McCrady. “That’s because we know a large portion of economic recovery is impacted by consumer sentiment and psychology. It is likely that consumers will be experiencing a feeling of euphoria as the weather warms and the COVID-19 vaccine distribution allows them to behave in a more normal manner. This will spur more spending by those consumers, especially if we are able to help those currently unemployed rejoin the workforce.”
McCrady said it’s the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance’s job to ensure the region is prepared to support current businesses and attract new ones that fit well in a post-pandemic world. A Business Insider article published last summer helped bolster that effort by ranking Springfield, Illinois as the best places to live in the nation once the pandemic ends. Springfield earned the ranking due to its large quantities of broadband access and low cost of living which might appeal to those wishing to continue remote work. The region also already boasts high-quality educational opportunities, an expansive business sector coupled with low unemployment rates, world-class healthcare facilities, cultural diversity, and a convenient location with easy proximity to larger cities.
“Springfield has a lot going in its favor, especially in the sense of what people might be looking for after this pandemic ends,” said McCrady. “We feel like we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and 2021 will be a better year. At the Growth Alliance, we are still getting calls, businesses are still looking for sites because of how low-interest rates are. Of course, this positive economic outlook cannot overshadow the tremendous impact many industries have experienced from the pandemic. SSGA will continue to seek opportunities to assist businesses in those industries recovering from the impact and advocate for additional government programs to help them rebound. Our goal is to position our community as a place where all people can and will thrive.”