Over the last three months, we have sent surveys to our membership to identify issues and needs that local businesses might be experiencing. Today, we will share an overview of what the 91 respondents told us were their concerns. Except for comparisons, we will not be reviewing the March survey results. Suffice it to say, in March, everyone was worried about COVID-19, wanting to know about government programs, and when, how, and if they were going to be allowed to open their businesses.
Our second survey was distributed at the end of May. By that time respondents were still very concerned and had many questions, but it seemed as if they better understood their needs. In March, 50 percent of respondents felt “A great deal of concern” and 22 percent felt “a lot of concern” about the impact of COVID-19 on their business. As of a couple of weeks ago, 25 percent of respondents felt “A great deal of concern” and 31 percent felt “a lot of concern” about the impact of the pandemic on their business. Overall, there was a definite calming of concern.
Seventy-two percent of respondents received some kind of financial assistance for their business, with the majority coming from federal or state loans or grants. Seventy-six percent of respondents did not have to lay off or furlough employees (some because they were sole proprietors.) Of those who did furlough or lay off people, most businesses plan to bring back staff as business allows. A small number of companies, however, are still considering new furloughs or layoffs.
Not surprisingly, the top concerns of respondents related to reopening are:
* making up lost revenue and covering the expenses of reopening,
* safety concerns of customers and employees,
* and what will happen if there is a relapse of the virus and associated shutdowns.
Liability, clarity and validity of government regulations, the impact of budget shortfalls on businesses, the state, and local governments are also concerns of many respondents.
Respondents also seem to have a better understanding of their information needs. Seventy-eight percent of respondents felt they had received adequate instructions on how to reopen their businesses. The information that people are still looking for include new and anticipated regulations, safety guidelines for customers and employees, understanding potential liability of reopening, and having a reopening checklist. The Partnership has addressed these and other information needs through our COVID19 information pages on our website greaterfreeport.com/recovery (https://greaterfreeport.com/recovery/)
Surveys are snapshots in time. Business issues and needs will continue to change and evolve as businesses are dealing with an ever-changing reality. The Greater Freeport Partnership is committed to identifying and providing connections, information and assistance to area businesses that is relevant to their current needs and situation. The needs of each business are unique and individual. We invite you to call us for help with any challenges you are still facing. We are open by appointment, phone call or email to provide a listening ear and offer resources to benefit each situation.