During a Business Roundtable event last week in Ravenna, panelists discussed wages, entrepreneurship and ways to support local small businesses.
The panel discussion, which took place at the West Main Street Winery in Ravenna, was broadcast live by Wolf Radio, and owner Brian Wolf, of Streetsboro, served as the moderator of the discussion.
“We’re discussing small business — what we can do to make it better and what we can do to grow it, not just in Ravenna but in Northeast Ohio," said Wolf.
Participating were Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Ryann Kuchenbecker; Ohio District 75 Rep. Gail Pavliga; District 18 state Sen. Jerry Cirino; Linda Hale, community manager for the Canton Innovation District; Kevin Young, owner of Lugapha’s BBQ; and Bob Cramer, owner of Deals to Your Door.
Cirino said small businesses face a headwind created by the federal government’s payouts to help businesses and individuals survive economically during the pandemic.
“What we can do is help businesses solve a couple of important problems,” he said. “One is not restricting customers that they have, which we saw with the shutdown, certainly during last year, and some of those businesses never recovered. Many restaurants are closed; gyms are closed, and they will not come back.”
New challenges to businesses include supply chain problems and increasing inflation, he added.
Pavliga said she believes the entrepreneurial spirit will be able to overcome these challenges.
“I think that there's always a spirit of someone who might want to do something and always a person that has a dream,” she said.
She said new business owners must identify a need that consumers in their market have and figure out how to meet that need.
“That, to me, is the spark for any small business owner,” she said. “What are people looking for if they’re going downtown — entertainment … the ability to walk around and enjoy company with others and socialize?”