Economic Forecasters Share Impact of COVID-19

Posted on January 27, 2021

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Regional Growth Expected to Return for Late 2021

Doubling down on economic strategy and collaboration critical to driving recovery

SYRACUSE, NY – CenterState CEO’s hosted its popular Economic Forecast event to share insights into the region’s economic climate from the perspective of regional business leaders and economic experts.

The event’s keynote speaker, M&T Bank Regional Economist Gary Keith, provided an analytic assessment of national and regional economic trends from the past year, including the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and provide a detailed an outlook into 2021. According to Keith, there is a strong chance for an economic recovery mid to-late 2021.

“As with the nation overall, COVID-19 restrictions have put enormous strain on the CenterState economy,” said Keith. “The 2021 outlook will be driven by continued diligence in combatting the virus and successful roll-out of community-wide vaccination programs. A return of normal daily mobility patterns, likely by mid-year, will reenergize economic activity and allow the region’s solid upward momentum in output and income to resume.”

New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul also addressed the audience to share the state’s vision for driving progress and recovery in the region, and across the state, in the year ahead.

In his remarks, CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson highlighted the insights shared by this year’s Forecasters, as well as his perspective on how the strategies that drove progress before the pandemic will be central to the region’s recovery.

"Like communities across the country, Central New York has faced a tumultuous year driven by the health and economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Simpson. “Our forecasters have made it clear that the stressors of the pandemic have created lingering challenges and hardships, and shaken confidence. For others, it has opened opportunities to innovate and expand products, services and operations. Amidst so much uncertainty, one thing is clear - our region’s pre-pandemic trajectory was put in motion by data-driven economic development strategies to guide its growth. Committing to that same strategic approach will be critical to advancing our continued recovery.”

The event marks the release of the 2021 Economic Forecast for Central New York. The report includes the perspectives and projections of CenterState CEO members and business leaders from across industry sectors, with data and insight on COVID-19 impacts and industry and employment trends.

Through a survey and focus groups conducted by third-party research firm Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc., forecasters reflected on the growth they experienced in 2020 and shared their predictions for 2021:

  • 45% described their business in 2020 as being strong or very strong, down 29% from 2019.
  • 42% described their outlook for the strength of their business in 2021 as strong or very strong, down 34% from 2020 projections.
  • 44% anticipate increased sales or revenue in 2021; down 26% from 2020 projections.
  • 42% expect to expand product and services in 2021, down 18% from 2020 projections.
  • 39% expect an increase in jobs and hiring in 2021, down 26% from 2020 projections.
  • 34% expect to increase capital investments, down 15% from 2020 projections.

Forecasters also shared that factors like business development, customer demand and regulatory requirements were those most impacted by COVID-19 in 2020, and that they anticipate little to no change in these impacts for 2021.

Outside of COVID-19, businesses indicated other environmental factors they anticipate will impact their business in the coming year.

Environmental factors expected to positively impact businesses in 2021:

  • Innovation and Technology - innovations within an industry, and the impact on business operations from advancements in technologies.
  • New Markets, Products or Customers due to COVID-19 – the ability to capture new business opportunities because of the pandemic.

Environmental factors expected to negatively impact businesses in 2021:

  • Government Policy and Regulatory Issues – such as existing laws, policies, government procedures or the current political environment.
  • Social Forces – the impact of poverty and economic disparity on the region.

Forecasters contributing to the 2021 Economic Forecast for Central New York additionally acknowledged several opportunities and challenges that they say impact their projections for their business and the regional economy.


  • There is opportunity to capture more of the young workforce and bring them to CNY.
  • Cooperation among local and statewide political leadership will be integral to the growth of the local CNY economy.
  • New product/service development is a critical component to support business growth and expansion into new markets.
  • Strategic realignment allows the strengths of leadership and employees to be leveraged.
  • Companies must innovate to keep up with technological advancements to improve quality of goods/services and develop new partnerships and/or collaborations.
  • Organizations continue to report difficulty finding key talent, and/or attracting highly skilled labor to the area; retention also remains an issue.
  • Participants expressed that the region’s significant poverty issues create economic disparity that negatively impacts the local economic environment as well as their business.
  • The cost of materials and supplies across industries is rising, placing additional strain on already streamlined operational budgets, and creating a concern over reduced revenues.
  • Local, regional and/or state policy and/or regulations continues to be a leading pressure for businesses.
  • No face-to-face marketing and travel restrictions limits sales and new customer growth.

The 2021 Economic Forecast for Central New York and Gary Keith’s presentation can be found at CenterState CEO’s website

The CenterState CEO Economic Forecast is presented by M&T Bank and St. Joseph’s Health. Corporate Sponsors include Dermody, Burke & Brown, CPAs LLC; Exelon Generation; Novelis and Research & Marketing Strategies. Media Sponsor is the Central New York Business Journal.

About CenterState CEO

CenterState CEO is an independent and forward thinking economic development strategist, business leadership organization and chamber of commerce; dedicated to the success of its members and the prosperity of the region. We serve as an advocate and resource for smart business, catalyze and facilitate regional growth, and promote community prosperity through results-driven partnerships, planning and problem-solving.

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