Missouri's businesses are facing new challenges in the midst of the pandemic and must adapt to a new, changing economy, UM System experts said during a virtual panel Thursday.

The panel answered questions from an audience, most pertaining to how businesses should navigate the current economy. Business and legal experts from the system's four campus regions discussed supply chain disruption and businesses' insurance plans in regard to COVID-19.

"The past couple of months have been nothing short of historic," Matt McCormick, president and CEO of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said. "This is something none of us has ever dealt with, and it's been very demanding."

As a result, young people feel less in control of their futures and could spend less money and take less risk for years to come, according to Charles Hoffman, dean of the University of Missouri-St. Louis' College of Business Administration.

"Two months ago, I was bragging that our graduates were receiving two or three job offers," Hoffman said. "I kept telling them how lucky they are. Well, I'm not saying that anymore, because many of those job offers have been rescinded."

As for managing a business during the pandemic, the panel advised business leaders to be transparent and empathetic with employees.

"The best leaders are showing their empathy," Brian Klaas, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City's school of management, said. "They are acknowledging that their team is faced with challenges they've never faced before."

The panel discussion was posted online for anyone to view.

  • General Assignment reporter, summer 2020. Studying data journalism. Reach me at bs2t6@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

  • Galen Bacharier is a reporter and assistant city editor at the Missourian. He has previously reported on state government and higher education. Reach him at galenbacharier@gmail.com or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

  • Elizabeth Brixey is a city editor at the Columbia Missourian. She oversees coverage of education. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and brixeye@missouri.edu.

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