In the latest edition of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism's (OACCT) Tuesday Talk e-newsletter, president and CEO Brad Meier says, "Owatonna's economy continues to rebound from (the) pandemic, but uncertainty continues to plague the recovery."

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He indicates that while most of the industries maintained during the initial 'Stay at Home' order, small businesses suffered. At least one, Party Plus in downtown Owatonna, closed due to the economic turndown.

Meier indicates that most of the 40-plus industry businesses continued production as essential businesses, but that "The hardest hit businesses have been small, independently owned 'Main Street' businesses. This includes restaurants, fitness centers, hair salons, and small retail."

Meier added, "We know this through data collected during the JumpStart Owatonna initiative (May-July) that served 45 businesses directly and the Owatonna CARES Grant Program that is currently working with 67 businesses."

Regarding the near future, Meier states, "Consumer habits moving more online shopping, less indoor seating capacities and the coming cold weather has local businesses cautious and concerned about what they will face economically in 2021."

The Tuesday Talk newsletter reports a 5.6% percent unemployment rate in Owatonna, based on a labor force of 21,843, with 20,620 employed and 1,223 unemployed.

Meier also points out that the chamber is "watching some of the emerging trends related to business - from local to global."

  • The US Census Bureau has received over 111,000 applications to start new businesses, a big increase over the same period a year ago.
  • Average savings rate surged a record 32% in April, up from an average of 8%.
  • Online sales are up 49%.
  • July real estate prices were up 8.5% over July of 2019. July 2020 sales of homes was up nearly 25% from the previous month.

The chamber will co-sponsor a series of candidate forums again this year. The first event is for District 1 Congressional contenders on Monday, October 5 from 12 to 1 pm at the Owatonna Country Club. Watch for streaming information as public seating won't be available. The Early Edition and Noon Edition Rotary Clubs and the Owatonna People's Press join OACCT is hosting these weekly forums up through Monday, November 2.