As we continue moving through these uncharted economic waters caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many local businesses find themselves having to reshuffle business priorities and introduce new revenue streams or go to market strategies to help stay ahead of overhead costs. 

Examples of enterprising local companies are all around us. Local distilleries are pivoting to make hand sanitizer to both help boost sales and fill a need for an important product in short supply. A number of retailers and restaurants have embraced curbside-pickup and delivery to keep some revenue coming in the door. Some local wineries are even doing “virtual tastings” to help keep staff employed and revenue flowing.

In this edition of the National Capital Dealbook, we’ll explore new challenges that impact key industries and business communities in our region and how some are responding to these new realities of doing business. 

Department of Defense Responds to Delays in the Defense Industrial Base

Under the restrictions on facility access and need to maintain safe distances between necessary defense industry personnel, the DOD supply chain has had to slow down in order to preserve not only the nation’s ability to produce essential defense goods, but also its ability to produce PPE, respirators, and other equipment necessary in the COVID-19 fight.  

The DOD’s Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment, Ellen Lord, predicts up to a three month delay in contracts due to difficulties in the supply chain imposed by COVID-19.  And, as part of the efforts to shore up its contractor base—which is fundamentally tied to our region’s economy—Lord called on Congress to appropriate “billions and billions” of dollars to reimburse contractors for up to “40 hours of paid leave per employee, per week for employees that cannot access federal facilities or telework as a result of the pandemic, effectively keeping them on the payroll to keep companies from having to lay off staff.”

Local Hospitals Project Billions Lost in Revenue

Medical services could not be more important right now, and it has become more important than ever to identify new technologies and novel approaches that can help meet our population’s healthcare needs.  However, this doesn’t mean that healthcare enterprises are immune to COVID-19’s economic challenges. 

Earlier this week, it was reported that the Maryland Hospital Association projects that the state’s hospitals could face a billion dollar revenue shortfall over the next three months. 

According to Baltimore Business Journal, while hospitals are investing tens of millions of dollars in the equipment and infrastructure—acquiring things like ventilators and expanding the number of available COVID-19 beds—that they need to combat the surge of COVID-19 patients, hospitals have also postponed many elective and non-emergency procedures, dropping patient volumes 30 percent statewide.

Army Funds “Shark Tank” Competition for Low-Cost Ventilators

Despite the economic challenges that the novel coronavirus presents, it also presents opportunities for business innovation. 

Last week, small-business innovators participated in a virtual “shark tank” meeting with Army leaders looking for a low-cost, low-maintenance ventilator design that could be rapidly fielded as experts predict that COVID-19 may linger both in the U.S. and abroad. 

The effort, which is helmed by Army disease experts, including those based at the Army’s Edgewood, MD Chemical-Biological Center, gave out awards ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, and, if there were more ideas that looked promising, the Army was open to investing more. 

Opportunities as Businesses Transition to Remote Work

As many workers in our region are establishing a new normal as they work from home, there are opportunities for businesses that can find ways to support that transition, ranging from the cybersecurity needs of a remote VPN-reliant workforce to those in need of best practices for remote meetings and communication. 

For example, WILL Interactive, a National Capital region-based company that specializes in professional development training, is leveraging its capabilities in order to produce educational materials that could help businesses develop best practices for remote work and an understanding of the current economic environment. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business? What are you doing that’s different and creative to keep your company working during this difficult time? Reach out to us and let us know…you may be profiled in an upcoming article on the site!