Officials say as workers remain remote, local economy suffers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As many workers in downtown Charleston continue to work remotely because of COVID-19, area officials are worried about the impact on small businesses.

Tim Brady, the CEO of the Charleston CVB said as the pandemic continues and fewer people are downtown, the stronger the impact on the economy.

Tim Brady

“Fewer people are going out to lunch, fewer people are stopping into the shops downtown to pick something up while they are out. It has a real negative impact on small business downtown specifically,” Brady told 580-WCHS.

Capital Area Services Company, Inc. (CASCI), a health insurance claims processing and customer service organization located in downtown, remains workerless in the large building on Kanawha Boulevard near the Charleston Town Center Mall. CASCI officials were unable to be reached Thursday to determine when workers may return to the building.

Jackson Kelly, Fifth Third Bank, BB&T, MVB Bank, United Bank are also among those that have at least part of the workforce at home.

Brady believes many businesses may work remotely through at least the end of the year. He said his office and city officials believe remote working maybe a new normal for companies.

“Maybe the traditional office setting is no longer necessary because of all the technology available. There is a part of me that thinks that maybe this becomes a semi-permanent situation where people work from home on a more regular basis,” he said.

Brady said local businesses need to adjust to the landscape, especially with the holiday season getting closer. He hopes businesses offer more online options and curbside pickup and that includes the service industry.

Part of that idea was launched earlier in the week with the City of Charleston’s “Support Small CWV” campaign.

“The Christmas season is make or break time for a lot of locally owned businesses, especially on the retail side but even restaurants and service industry businesses, the fourth quarter is a make or break time for them,” Brady said.