A look ahead to 2022, part 2

The lineup

December Experts


Lee Schulz, Economist, Iowa State University

Denise Schwab, ISU Extension beef specialist, Iowa State University

Larry Tranel, Dairy Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Agribusiness Banking

Andrew Faubel, VP, Agribusiness Banker, DB&T

Arts and Entertainment

Mark Wahlert, Executive Director, Dubuque Symphony Orchestra


Matt Mulligan, President and Chief Operating Officer, Conlon Construction


Expert: Paul Erickson, Chief Communications Officer, University of Wisconsin-Platteville

January Experts


Mike O’ Donnell, Associate Director, Iowa State University, Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS)

Real Estate

Jared Levy, Realtor, EXIT Realty Dubuque


Joe Bell, Director of Corporate Communications, Cafaro Company, parent company of Kennedy Mall

Small Business

Jayne Armstrong, District Director, Iowa District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration


Karla Thompson, Executive Director, Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce

The first of a two-part article featuring a look ahead to 2022 by several business sectors, appeared in the December issue. Part one featured experts from agriculture, agribusiness banking, arts/entertainment, construction and education.

Part two features experts from manufacturing, real estate, retail, small business and tourism sharing their perspective on what 2022 will bring.


Expert: Mike O’Donnell, associate director, Iowa State University, Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS)

The manufacturing sector will continue to face uncertainty throughout the year. Leaders will be forced to balance tradeoffs on materials costs, transportation capacity, employee availability and demand fluctuation.

Our global supply chain is a finely tuned, interconnected system. When systems like this experience multiple rounds of disruptions and demand changes at the same time, the only relief will come when new capacity is added. Expect to see global corporations bring new transportation and manufacturing capabilities online in 2022.

I also expect prices to remain above historical levels. Commodity material providers that have seen eroding profits for decades will use this as an opportunity to reset price expectations.

I’m hopeful that the direct impacts of the pandemic, such as shutdowns, high absentee rates and increased controls in the factory will be less of an impact in 2022. However, the indirect impacts like supply chain issues, health care cost growth and others will impact into 2022 and far beyond.

Our analysis shows that Iowa’s business needs have outgrown our current population, and workforce issues will continue to grow over the coming years and decades. Businesses that want to continue to grow will have to develop and implement new strategies to find new people, take leaps in productivity and implement technology to supplement people.

Manufacturers are problem solvers. While we face plenty of challenges, I’m optimistic that manufacturers will innovate their way through this. We’re in for exciting times in the next two to three years.

Real Estate

Expert: Jared Levy, Realtor, EXIT Realty Dubuque

I foresee another year similar to 2021. It will continue to be a steady seller’s market due to low inventory and this will drive lots of competition for the buyers.

Supply chain issues will mostly affect pricing on new construction and homeowners who plan on doing remodeling.

I think the pandemic will continue to impact real estate indirectly. The pandemic caused interest rates to fall to historic lows which fueled the market by bringing many new buyers to the table. With the low inventory, low rates and high demand we saw home prices surge. Unless inventory or interest rates come up I think we’ll see more of the same.

There have not been issues with hiring new staff and agents in our brokerage. I think the recent surge in our market has brought many new excited people to the industry.


Expert: Joe Bell, director of corporate communications, Cafaro Co., parent company of Kennedy Mall

Retail analysts don’t always agree but there seems to be a general consensus that the retail industry will remain robust during 2022. We’re getting a sense that there is pent up demand among consumers to get out there and shop in person. That’s something they weren’t able to do or were afraid to do during 2020 and much of 2021.

Keep in mind, the savings rate in America is quite high at the moment. There is a strong sense that many people are ready to spend some of those saved dollars.

Very shortly, we will begin the planning for a moderate renovation of Kennedy Mall. This will involve installing new energy-efficient lighting systems, new carpeting, painting and installation of new wall systems on the exterior. As leasing plans progress, it might dictate the need to engage in further renovation on the mall property.

There’s no doubt that the supply chain, especially from China, is a thorough mess. On the other hand, some retailers have been resourceful enough to secure the inventory they need. It points to the strength of retailers who are able to source their products domestically and we’ll probably see more of that. In the short term, though, we’ll probably see retailers struggling with their supply chains into the first months of 2022.

While there are cases of COVID, I think most of us are very happy to see that the infection rate is going down. The one pandemic-related problem that lingers is the number of people who are still not getting back into the workforce.

Retailers have been struggling for months to find the staff they need. Many of those stores have restricted their operating hours, claiming they don’t have enough employees to maintain normal schedules. To a certain extent, it’s been a problem for the mall’s management staff, as well, especially for janitorial, maintenance and housekeeping jobs.

We have great confidence in what lies ahead for Kennedy Mall. Our leasing executives are in discussions with a variety of potential new tenants. We always are looking for fresh new offerings to meet the needs of people in the community. Get ready to see some great things develop.

Small Business

Expert: Jayne Armstrong, district director, Iowa District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration

Small businesses continue to pivot and adapt to the economic changes created by the pandemic. Many entrepreneurs identified additional revenue streams to stay afloat during the pandemic and will take advantage of these new business opportunities in the coming year.

Small businesses built a stronger presence on social media in response to the economic shutdowns. This exposure will continue to expand their online sales. Some of our most underserved markets were not able to fully access economic recovery programs due to not have having banking relationships or appropriate financial statements. There are a lot of efforts by banks, credit unions and economic development stakeholders to improve Iowa’s economic literacy environment and engage Iowa’s most marginalized communities.

The SBA and its resource partner network are encouraged by the large number of start-ups and business acquisitions in 2021. This is a strong sign that the economy is truly recovering and starting to get back on track. More Americans are back to work and people are buying more of what they need.

Hiring is an issue. Access to child care is also a major issue affecting working parents. It is anticipated that progress will be made by the federal government in the coming year, but childcare will remain a long-term issue, especially in our rural communities.

Workforce and supply chain issues will continue into 2022, but will slowly improve as the world continues to recover from the pandemic and its economic impact.

If anything positive resulted from the pandemic, it is that America realized the importance of small businesses to the economy. There is nothing small about small business; it is the driving force of daily life.


Expert: Karla Thompson, executive director, Dyersville (Iowa) Area Chamber of Commerce

The year 2021 was a great comeback year and we predict 2022 to be just as great, if not even better. People are ready to get back out and travel and we are thrilled so many are choosing Dyersville as one of their destinations. With the MLB game returning to Dyersville plus all of the other amazing events, attractions and businesses we have to offer the average tourist and even the larger motor coach groups, we are ready to welcome them.

Next year looks like another busy year for our area. It’s Dyersville’s 150th anniversary so we will be working on putting together a celebration. We are working with MLB and Beyond the Game festivities for the Aug. 11, 2022 game, Chicago Cubs vs Cincinnati Reds. We’re anticipating a larger crowd due to the Cub fanbase and increased awareness and excitement of the event.

The supply chain is constantly changing. We try to buy local as much as we can and our local businesses have done a fantastic job stocking up on their inventory.

The pandemic impacts our business through event attendance, tourism into our community and the comfort level of people going out and about spending money at local businesses.

There have been issues with local businesses finding workforce and I don’t foresee this issue ending in 2022. We are gearing up for 2022 as we are anticipating a great tourism year. We are watching what happens with the pandemic, assisting businesses and working on workforce issues.