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Duluth Business Feeling Economic Effects of Coronavirus

Baihly Warfield
Updated: February 19, 2020 10:25 PM

With no confirmed cases in Minnesota, health risks from the coronavirus seem far off. But at least one local business is feeling the economic side effects. 

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Advantage Emblem & Screen Printing in Duluth relies on Chinese manufactured goods. But the company hasn't gotten an order from there in more than five weeks.

"We have approximately 700 orders in one factory right now that has not been produced," Nathan Bentley, president of the company, said. 

Advantage makes custom patches, embroiders logos on clothes and hats, screen prints shirts, does engraving and more.

Bentley said luckily, the backlog won't hurt business too much. He said his challenges are the same across the industry, so unfortunately, his customers can't go anywhere else to get delayed orders done faster. Still, it's been a challenging few weeks.

"When you're not bringing in products, it's hard to invoice. You've got all this business, but you have to be able to deliver it," he said. 

Advantage managed to move some orders to other countries. Their main factory reopened Tuesday night, so production should pick up again soon. But Bentley anticipates economic repercussions are still coming.

"It's not just our little company here in Duluth, Minnesota," Bentley said. "But when you're talking everything that's manufactured for the United States and across the world in China, there's going to be a significant backlog on everything that people right now aren't quite -- they're not feeling it yet, the consumers. But they're going to feel it."

On Monday, Apple said its supply of iPhones will be "temporarily constrained." 

With all the precautions being taken to guard against the virus spreading further, Bentley isn't concerned about packages arriving at his Haines Road warehouse in the coming weeks.

"The virus does not live on products, it does not live on the freight," he said. "I've certainly read lots on the CDC website, and it just does not live on product." 

Advantage produces all of the gear and medals for Grandma's Marathon races. But Bentley said there is still plenty of time to get the materials for one of Duluth's biggest summer events. 

Credits

Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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