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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Coral Gables founder George Merrick would not like what’s going on in his ‘City Beautiful.’

The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged restaurants and retailers alike along the Miracle Mile, just two years after a massive and financially disruptive makeover of the famous shopping district.

The Actors’ Playhouse at the iconic Miracle Theatre has not been immune to the impact.

“I think we have a $1.6 million, $1.7 million loss in revenue over the last four or five months because of the pandemic,” said Barbara Stein, Executive Producing Director of the Actors’ Playhouse at The Miracle Theatre.

Gone for now are popular productions that drew both crowds and patrons. The playhouse has been reduced to producing online, virtual, Facebook events, where they encourage young artists while keeping top of mind with supporters.

“We had to let go of our technical staff, many had been with us 20 years,” said Stein.

The hit play “Million Dollar Quartet” drew thousands to the theater during the reconstruction crisis, but during this crisis, the playhouse is closed and business is hurting.

“In 1995, when we created our partnership with the city, they were looking for this theater to be a performing arts center to create the foot traffic to revitalize the downtown,” said Stein.

It might play a similar important role again when opened post COVID-19. A functioning cultural attraction could very well turn out to be a major player in a post-pandemic economic recovery. As for donors?

“Some have come forward with dollars and many are waiting for a call and some are hesitant,” said Stein. “People are concerned about their investment for the season. Right in the middle of the pandemic starting we were in the height of a major campaign for subscriptions.”

The Actors’ Playhouse at Coral Gables Miracle Threatre has scheduled a major and virtual fundraiser for September.

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Business Economists Report Favorable Economic Conditions and Improvement for Next Year

A survey released Monday of 92 business economists found most firms are continuing to recover from the economic downturn set off by the coronavirus pandemic and expect stronger growth over the next year.

Despite the rosy outlook, which has improved since a similar survey in July, the survey conducted earlier this month found hiring remains depressed and companies continue to allow employees flexibility in working at home.

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The survey "shows that firms are continuing to gain ground since the sharp economic downturn experienced in the first half of the year, said National Association of Business Economists President Manuel Balmaseda, chief economist at materials group Cemex. "The momentum is expected to continue though 2020."

The surveys are widely followed in the business world and on Wall Street as they reflect real-world opinion among companies. Notably, nearly a quarter of economists, 23%, reported sales at their companies are at "more than 100% or pre-crisis levels."

Industries reporting the strongest improvement in business conditions were concentrated in the goods-producing and the transportation, utilities, information and communication sectors. In contrast, conditions were weaker in the services sector, as well as finance, insurance and real estate.

The survey comes barely a week before the presidential election and includes responses from the first two weeks of October. It also may reflect what is driving the differing opinions on Capitol Hill on the need for additional stimulus. Senate Republicans have argued for a lower level of stimulus, whereas House Democrats are pushing for a larger package. But negotiations appear stalled.

On the campaign trail, President Trump has claimed his administration built the greatest economy in history, only to see it derailed by COVID-19, which has claimed more than 225,000 American lives and shows no sign of abating. Former Vice President Joe Biden has argued that until the coronavirus is brought under control, the economy will not recover.

It's not clear how these disparate views on the economy will play out on Nov. 3, when Americans go to the polls. The stock market remains at a very high level and home sales have been on a tear for much of the year. But weekly unemployment claims, while dipping slightly the past two weeks, are close to 800,000 and more than 12 million are unemployed.

Thursday will bring the first estimate of third-quarter growth in gross domestic product. A widely followed model from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is calling for an increase of 35.3% on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

"The week ahead is set to bring good news about the past, bad news about the future. In the U.S., third quarter GDP will show a record expansion, but with stimulus talks stalled and the virus case count rising, the outlook is darkening," Bloomberg Economics Chief Economist Tom Orlik said recently.

Tim Smart, Executive Editor, News

Tim Smart is the Executive Editor for news at U.S. News & World Report, where he is ...  Read more

Tags: business, economy, hiring, sales

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