Pinellas County Economic Development | Business Observer

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Entity: Pinellas County Economic Development

Cynthia Johnson has been helping small businesses and entrepreneurs in Pinellas County for two decades.

Johnson was appointed director of economic development for Pinellas County in September. Prior to this appointment, she was the Business Support Division Director at PCED from 2001 to 2021. Her work included managing the department’s entrepreneurship and small business support and development initiatives.

This means that Johnson has worked alongside small business owners in the county and, according to her official bio, as “a trainer, mentor and educator, she has supported hundreds of people in the creation, retention and expansion of their businesses “.

With that experience as a backdrop, Johnson says one business axiom holds true in the midst of the pandemic: to be nimble. The companies that have survived the pandemic, she says, are the ones that have focused on a good customer experience and invested in technology. “In an environment where economic uncertainty is the new normal, companies must be prepared to adapt. “

Opportunities: By 2022, small businesses will continue to have opportunities to diversify by taking advantage of new platforms to sell their products. Johnson says companies “agile and using technology in their service delivery and the development of products and goods will be rewarded.”

When it comes to businesses that continue to struggle, Johnson says those businesses need to take advantage of agencies like his or the Small Business Administration, which can help with capital, sourcing issues, and even accounting support. . “In this new year, companies need to have a plan to pivot and that needs to be built into their business model,” she says.

Threats: But no one believes it will be easy.

Like many – from government officials to store managers – Johnson says the threat of COVID-19 “without a doubt” is the greatest uncertainty in 2022. With the Delta and Omicron variants continuing to spread, there is an imminent threat of restrictions and renewed mandates, she said.

These, as we have seen over the past 18 months, do not have to be local to have a major impact on small business owners in this area: they are the ones who have to deal with the effects. training. Delays in the supply chain and lack of workers, according to Johnson, “add to the stress of sustainability for small businesses.”

Johnson says for small business owners to protect themselves against these threats, they must have a business continuity plan and be prepared to change if and when the need arises; seek efficiency gains within the company and with customers; and “innovate, innovate, innovate – constantly look for ways to deliver products, goods or services, with high quality, customer service and affordability”.

– Louis Llovio


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