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Will the latest COVID spike impact the economy in the fall? North Texas CEOs make predictions

No one is sure if the local spike in COVID-19 cases will continue indefinitely, but local executives made their predictions for the rest of the year.
Credit: Jake Dean/Dallas Business Journal
Former First Choice Emergency Room location now used as COVID 19 testing location in Highland Village.

Just as North Texas seemed to be heading into a post-COVID world, the Delta variant and high levels of unvaccinated residents have contributed to a skyrocketing number of cases.

While more than 2,000 patients across North Texas were hospitalized this week and Dallas County fights an executive order banning mask mandates, many businesses are struggling to get a hold on where the spike in cases leaves them.

The Dallas Business Journal staff spoke to CEOs and other decision-makers based in Dallas-Fort Worth about what they see in their respective industries and what the ballooning numbers could mean for their third and fourth quarter strategy.

Justin Shuart, newly hired senior director at Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp.:

“I haven’t heard any concerns from clients, lenders or equity partners yet. If we continue to see an uptick in cases, I could certainly see how it would create some caution in the market. The only space I'm really seeing anybody looking that far out would be in the ground-up development space. If you're closing a deal, it's going to be two years before you're trying to lease it up and probably three years before you stabilize it. There's maybe some concern in that space, but certainly not enough to stop people from putting shovels in the dirt.”

Rogers Healy, owner and CEO of Dallas-based Rogers Healy and Associates:

“Fall is always a slow time in the real estate market, so I actually don't anticipate the second wave having a big effect on the market in general. The market is still going to be stronger than a typical fall season, even while combating this new wave.... That being said, we are ready for whatever the second wave throws at us. When we were dealing with the peak in 2020, we saw an influx in Realtors, because they could find stability during an unstable time. So many individuals were making the switch from the service or hospitality industry to real estate, and I expect that we will see that again. We are actually ramping up our recruiting efforts to prepare for this influx.”

Beth Bowman, president and CEO, Irving Economic Development Partnership and Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce:

“Throughout the ongoing pandemic, our businesses have continued to evaluate their real estate decisions, whether on a remote-office structure or by location. Our pipeline of prospects continues to remain full. We will continue to work with these customers day-in and day-out to ensure our businesses here, in our community, have the support they need to keep their doors open, while also working with businesses looking for a new home in Irving-Las Colinas that provides a high quality of life, talented workforce and business-friendly, cost-savings environment.”

Kim Houlne, CEO of Working Solutions:

“So, as an old school person who started working in the '80's -- you think the office is everything. How can you not want to work in the office? But I think what we're going to see is truly a hybrid approach. So, if your team decides to be hybrid, your entire team needs to be hybrid. If your team wants to come back into the office, it's all in back in the office. ... I think there's some knowledge that's left out, if you're a person who is working remotely, and the rest of your team is working in the office. … We're working from anywhere for the summer. After Labor Day everybody makes the decision: Do you come in as a team or do you stay hybrid as a team, but it's a a team decision, and you move forward from there. And if you've chosen to work hybrid. I'm asking that they meet on site at least once or twice a month, as a team, because there's some things that do get lost in translation and communication.”

John Steinmetz, President and CEO, Vista Bank:

“Being one of the few banks that participated in all elements of the CARES Act, and worked for small- and mid-cap companies, we are seeing the fruits of those labors, and we are continuing to push forward. We are by no means looking in the rearview mirror and continue to really be optimistic about where we're going in the future. Interest rates are difficult. They make it a challenging industry today, because of the interest rate environment. But we're very blessed to live in Dallas and are bullish for the future.”

These quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity. For more insights from local business leaders, click here.

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