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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Local Expert Says Coronavirus Will Impact Ohio Businesses

illustration of coronavirus
Coronavirus is causing supply chain disruptions.

A local expert on China says the coronavirus outbreak has already impacted some Ohio businesses. A professor in Akron’s global business institute, Mahesh Srinivasan says some tire and medical implant manufacturers have seen disruptions in their rubber supply chain, but two main factors have delayed the impact elsewhere.

First, tariffs have forced some businesses to find alternate supply sources outside China, and second is the annual disruption in supply that occurs around Chinese New Year.

He says these factors led businesses to build up their inventory in the past few months. The longer the coronavirus crisis goes on, the greater the impact could be on businesses, but Srinivasan says consumers shouldn’t be too worried.

Srinivasan also says not all the impacts of the virus are negative. He says companies like GOJO, the Akron-based Purell manufacturer and frozen food makers are expecting increases in demand as people look to protect themselves, and anticipate not going out to buy things like fresh groceries.

Srinivasan says the biggest disruption businesses will see is likely in their supply chains for parts they need to produce a product here in America. He estimates hundreds of Ohio businesses could be affected, and in the supply industry, Srinivasan says events like the coronavirus outbreak are referred to as “known-unknown” situations.

Srinivasan describing the nature of a "known-unknown" situation

Srinivasan says whatever the impact is will likely last until after many of the closed factories in China reopen. He says the companies who own the factories are conscious of their employee’s health needs, and are taking cues from the Chinese government concerning when to allow people to return to work.