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As the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy remains at the forefront of many minds. From supply chain issues to staffing shortages currently facing many businesses, the pandemic has been challenging for small businesses. After the 2008 economic crisis, it took small businesses 50% more time to fully recover compared to large corporations. Small businesses face similar challenges recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers also find it difficult to return to the workforce. Many had to leave during the early stages of the pandemic to care for relatives and a lack of support means they can’t take on a full-time job. Others may be able to return to work but are struggling to finish a post-secondary degree or credential to move up to a better paying position. At a recent Town Hall event in Fayetteville, we explored two aspects of this issue and how communities are tackling them: supporting small businesses and supporting workers as they return to the workforce.