Article Published by The Beacon-News | View Article
Author: Steve Lord
A new survey shows Aurora area business leaders believe that the economic situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic is likely to last beyond this year.
The “Regional Insights Report: Business Impact of COVID-19,” a collaboration between the Aurora Area Regional Chamber of Commerce and Invest Aurora, the city’s economic redevelopment arm, looked at 524 survey responses from businesses across the Aurora region, according to a Chamber of Commerce press release.
It added that the survey asked “businesses of all sizes, length in operation and across all industry sectors” to add insights to the survey about operating in the age of COVID-19. Waubonsee Community College also was part of developing the survey.
“As COVID-19 continues to change our world on a daily basis, the insights contained in this report provide in-depth information on how our region continues to cope, all while looking for signs of recovery,” said Jessica Linder Gallo, president and CEO of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The results of our survey point out a lot of what we expected — that many industries, especially the restaurant and entertainment industries, are still hurting and will for some time. But with an eye toward recovery, the findings also reveal several opportunities to support businesses, including providing penalty-free expense extensions and additional near-term financial assistance programs.”
One of the principal findings was that business leaders believe COVID-19 implications will last beyond 2020.
Businesses said they are mixed as to their longer-term work structures, both today and beyond COVID-19. Some 18% said they are unsure as to their future work state and would closely monitor the situation. Another 63% said they plan to review flexible work options, including remote working.
But those reviewing flexible work options and remote working might not implement that. Some 14% of respondents said employees would continue to work virtually in the short-term, but will eventually return to onsite working when deemed safe. Only 9% said employees would continue to work virtually as much as possible, regardless of social distancing standards implemented in the office.
“Business needs have ebbed and flowed with the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring businesses, and organizations like ours, to be nimble,” said Bryan Gay, president and CEO of Invest Aurora. “The STABLE Fund, which was a large collaboration led by our organization, is an example of how our community came together quickly to respond to business needs. Surveys like these help us to continue to aid the longer-term economic development and recovery efforts across the region.”
But while some 23% of business said they applied for help from the STABLE Fund, most said they were more likely to apply for federal and state funding.
About 65% of respondents applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, and about 40% applied for the Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan, or EIDL. Both are federal programs.
Waubonsee Community College worked with both the chamber and Invest Aurora on the survey.
“With 34% of businesses wanting to learn more about protecting their workforce and 20% not prioritizing workforce options, it is clear that as businesses looks to the future, there is not one clear workplace or workforce solution that’s right for all businesses,” said Jamal Scott, vice president of Strategic Development at Waubonsee. “We will need to be ready for any and all solutions.”