California economy: Small businesses reopen to new normal

In summary

California’s economy is no longer at its nadir. But small businesses are still working to get back to normal, and are struggling with hiring, childcare for their workforce and the uncertainty of future outbreaks.

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Patty Baird hasn’t taken a single day off in the past year. Cedar House Sport Hotel, her boutique hotel in Truckee, is experiencing a surge of reservations. Even weekday evenings are getting booked up by the work-from-anywhere contingent. Baird is grateful for the additional business, but she’s struggled to hire more staff, which has left her working 12- to 16-hour days. 

Difficulty hiring is just one of several issues Baird faces this summer as California’s economy reopens. The uptick in COVID-19 cases across the state caused by the more contagious delta variant has renewed her sense of uncertainty. She has stopped taking deposits for events because cancellations and refunds last year created gaping holes in her balance sheet. An air conditioning unit she ordered in May won’t arrive until August at the earliest. In the meantime, staff routinely spray an older unit with water to keep it from overheating. This year feels harder to manage than last year. 

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