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How is coronavirus impacting Western New York business?

Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 17:26:44-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The DOW has plunged Tuesday as concerns over coronavirus grow. The virus's economic effects are hitting Western New York businesses as well.

"You've had the NAFTA MCA debates in North America. You've had the trade war with China. You've got some strife with how we do trade in the European Union. There's a lot going on. You throw coronavirus onto it, there's a lot for companies to deal with," said Craig Turner, the president of World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara.

He said the World Trade Center talks a lot about uncertainty, and COVID-19 is contributing to it. He said local businesses have been monitoring the coronavirus outbreak since January. Even before the virus became a factor, Turner said many companies were already exploring the option to pull out of China due to on-going trade issues. Turner said conferences and flights are primarily being affected now.

"It's a kind of roll with the punches kind of feel right now," Turner said, "Trade shows being canceled, obviously flight disruption."

He said a lot of businesses are taking proactive measures.

"Attacking the problem before it becomes a bigger problem gives these companies an opportunity to make proactive decisions on how they're going to mitigate," said Turner.

Frank Kerbein agrees. He is the director of the Center for Human Resources of the Business Council of New York State.

"Let's start planning ahead for that instance should it happen if one of our employees or one of their household family members be diagnosed with the disease," Kerbein said.

He also said it's important for both employers and employees to know their rights.

"Employers have an obligation to make sure their employees are working in a safe environment," Kerbein said, "For employees I would say let's be sure to communicate with your supervisors. If you or a family member has potential exposure it's important to let your supervisor know."

Kerbein said it's also up to employers to figure out how to compensate employees if they're sidelined by the virus. The Business Council of New York State will be hosting a free webinar on dealing with the coronavirus Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon. You can register here.