COVID-19 impact discussed

  • The News Observer
    The News Observer

“We are all in different boats,” Fannin County Development Authority Executive Director Christie Gribble said while explaining the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local businesses.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about every business, but in different ways,” Gribble said. “You may have bankers and CPAs working over-time, while some businesses have been required to shut down completely. While some retail shops have e-commerce and can make money by online sales or a health and wellness studio can maintain clientele by streaming online classes. Some businesses have had to get creative, such as adapting to curbside pickup. While others may not have that option.”

Financial technology company, Smart Asset, recently released a study, which measured the percentage of residents in each county within the state of Georgia that depend on small business income. 

Fannin County is listed as #10 with 31% in small business returns and 9.96% small business income. Many of these small businesses have taken a financial hit due to the virus.

“Here locally, and probably throughout the world, I believe tourism related businesses have been hit the hardest,” Gribble said. “That is a huge portion of our economy. However, I do look at the diversification of our businesses. From healthcare to manufacturing and distribution, we have had some increased productivity. In fact, some businesses have created new products and new jobs.”

According to Gribble, there are businesses who have had success in functioning in the current pandemic.

“My hope is that as we open back up safely,” she said. “All of our businesses will come out stronger, more prepared for challenges in the future, and we will find more success stories in recovering from such challenging times.”

She is currently working on a job board on the Development Authority’s website that will be a free place for businesses to post job openings. 

“This is not to replace Department of Labor or any job posting sites, but to be another option,” she said. “I’ll be reaching out to the business community soon with more information about the job board site.”

Gribble also expressed her appreciation to local SCORE representative Jim McKnight and the Small Business Development Center in Rome, stating, “He has gone above and beyond as a volunteer during the pandemic. We also have wonderful staff at the Small Business Development Center in Rome who are here to help our businesses virtually.”

Those looking for more information regarding resources can contact Gribble at