El Paso businesses begin to bounce back from COVID-19. What’s next for city’s economy?

Written by MLHA Team

April 8, 2021

El Pasoans unemployed remains high a year after the pandemic began, but businesses begin to recover. Read the details in our subscriber exclusive. Click here.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit El Paso a year ago, many businesses were forced to shut down or go to greatly reduced operations because of government-imposed restrictions, and even some businesses classified as essential saw sales take dramatic drops.

“It was scary when it first hit … It was like staring in the dark,” said Fiean Liem, who operates four El Paso restaurants.

Liem’s restaurants — two Koze Teppan Grills, Nomi, and the Greenery — survived in one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic in El Paso and across the nation.

“We’re still here. I’m optimistic we’ll get to the other side,” Liem said.

For Keats Southwest, an East El Paso metal-stamping plant that produces millions of small metal parts for factories in Mexico, sales drastically dropped in the early weeks of the pandemic as many factories it supplies slowed or shut production for weeks. Keats had to furlough about 15 employees.

Then, in the summer, sales began to come back as factories in Mexico and the United States revved up to make up for lost production, said Matt Keats, company co-owner and president.

“In 26 years (in El Paso), probably the last six months have been the best sales months since we’ve been here,” Keats said. “It’s insane.” 

READ FULL STORY HERE:Businesses see better days as El Paso economy rebounds from COVID-19 pandemic

The company, with 70 employees, has been hiring in recent weeks. It makes parts for motor vehicles, appliances, and other products.

However, the current surge in business is in danger of slowing because a shortage of copper and steel materials is starting to become a problem, he said. Copper and steel producers likely slowed production during the pandemic because of decreased orders, and now are not yet ready to supply the new demand, Keats said.

Other manufacturers are having similar problems with material shortages.

Manufacturing is one of the sectors of the El Paso economy that weathered the pandemic storm reasonably well. The real estate and construction sectors also have done well. But many small businesses, especially businesses in the restaurant and hotel sectors, continue to struggle as the El Paso economy emerges from the pandemic’s constraints.

El Pasoans unemployed remains high a year after the pandemic began, but businesses begin to recover. Read the details in our subscriber exclusive. Click here.

READ FULL STORY HERE:Businesses see better days as El Paso economy rebounds from COVID-19 pandemic

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