Indiana business owners express frustration over latest COVID-19 surge

Regional News

INDIANAPOLIS — Some Indiana business owners say they’re frustrated by this most recent surge of COVID-19, with several seeing their sales take a hit.

“We were getting back to what we would consider normal,” said Danielle Cooney, owner and manager of Small Batch Soups by Soupremacy in downtown Indianapolis.

Up to 85% of Small Batch Soups’ business comes during lunchtime from nearby offices and conventions, Cooney said. But recently, some people who used to work in those offices full-time are working from home.

“Today was an excessively slow day,” she expressed. “I can’t do a week or a month of a day like today.”

Business at Small Batch Soups is down at least 25% since June, Cooney said.

Cooney said she wants to see more people get vaccinated if they can, adding that she wouldn’t be opposed to another mask mandate to help slow the spread of COVID. 

“I would just like people to be considerate of the small businesses that are having trouble surviving this,” she said. “We’re at 18 months, and it’s a struggle every day.”

Business community leaders say Cooney isn’t the only one who feels this way.

“They’re weary, they’re frustrated, and they feel like the unvaccinated population is perpetuating this pandemic unnecessarily or perpetuating this pandemic at a level that is unnecessary,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Brinegar said several of his member business owners are feeling far less optimistic about the economy compared to earlier this summer.

“They want folks to voluntarily go get themselves vaccinated,” Brinegar said. “And they want this to help knock down this outbreak.”

Last week, the federal pandemic unemployment benefits ended, and the Biden administration announced some expanded loans for small businesses. Brinegar said he’s hopeful those changes will make a difference, but he added that it’s not a silver bullet for businesses facing challenges.

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