A recent survey of Lake County businesses found that most expect to survive for the next year, but many cannot sustain an extended shutdown of three to six months. Right now, local business owners’ key need is financial assistance.
The survey, conducted by the City of Leadville, Lake County Tourism Panel, Leadville-Lake County Chamber of Commerce, Leadville-Lake County Economic Development Corporation (LLEDC) and Leadville Main Street Program, received 52 responses.
“While all of the organizations that hosted the survey wanted to support local businesses, we were unsure what types of support would be most helpful,” said John Wells, president of the LLEDC. “We wanted to hear directly from local business owners, and we greatly appreciate each respondent taking the time to fill out the survey,” Wells said. “We will use these responses in the coming days and weeks to develop support that directly addresses local needs.”
As a thank you for participating, three local business owners won prizes in a random drawing. Santiago Martinez, Elsa Tharp, and Jill Hall can choose from a one-year membership to the LLEDC, a one-year membership to the Chamber or a $50 restaurant gift certificate.
Emails announcing the survey were sent to chamber and EDC members, as well as Lake County full-time lodging properties and all entities with a City of Leadville business license. The survey was open from April 27 to May 4.
The survey’s additional findings are as follows:
— The majority of respondents believe they will be able to reopen or continue their business and survive for the next year (42% said they are very or extremely confident, with another 42% saying somewhat confident).
— But nearly one-third (28%) cannot sustain a partial shutdown that lasts more than three months. Another 25% put their maximum time frame of survival during a partial shutdown at three to six months.
— Financial assistance is the key need, with 58% saying they would like help in that area.
— Financial needs are high, with 21% needing $5,000 to $10,000 of emergency funding in the next eight weeks to stay in operation, and 17% needing $10,000 to $25,000 during that time.
— More than half (51%) of respondents lost 40-80% of their March revenue due to COVID-19, and nearly 38% anticipated losing 80-100% of their April revenue.
— Most respondents rely on tourism for 40-100% of their revenue.
— Most respondents employ nine or fewer people.
— The main critical need to survive right now is to reopen.
Businesses identified the following issues as major problems caused by the pandemic:
— Decline in business/sales (58%).
— Business closed or hours reduced by government ban (44%).
— Not having the funds to pay their employees (37%).
— Lack of events to promote the downtown/business area (31%).
— Difficulty paying their commercial rent, commercial mortgage or lines of credit (31%).
— Ability to stay in business (permanent closure) (27%).
Respondents indicated that several types of financial support would be very important to business recovery efforts from COVID-19: grants (64%), renewed access to customers (56%), no/low interest loans (48%), income tax relief (39%) and regulatory relief (33%).
Around half of respondents have applied for federal and local economic assistance, with much smaller percentages receiving that assistance. Forty-five percent of respondents applied for a Small Business Association Economic Injury Disaster Loan (SBA EIDL), but only 11% received these funds, with 28% of respondents saying this program was not applicable to them.
For the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), 55% of respondents applied, and 26% received these funds. This program was not applicable to 25%. Nearly half (47%) applied for the City of Leadville’s Immediate Business Relief grant.
Nearly half (47%) are experiencing gaps between applying, approval, and deposit for SBA EIDL funds and grants and PPP support.
Respondents said they expect to use a variety of economic assistance programs to help them get through the crisis. Federal (66% of respondents), local (53%), and state (40%) programs topped the list, followed by business organizations (23%). Twenty-one percent expect not to use any programs. Respondents are also applying for a variety of grants.
In addition to financial assistance, 31% of respondents noted that they would like help with marketing. Both marketing and low-interest loans were listed as things respondents need in the medium to long term to support their business.
In terms of business support needed, results were mixed. Most respondents rated these options as very or somewhat helpful: individual counseling (45%), business support and education workshops (45%) and lists of webinars and other resources (49%).
Yet a large percentage found this same support not very helpful or not at all helpful: individual counseling (51%), business support and education workshops (49%), and lists of webinars and other resources (47%).
Resourceful local businesses are already pursuing the following activities to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on their income and employees:
— Engaging more with social media to promote business (59%).
— Trying to identify state and national funding sources to help alleviate losses (55% with another 25% considering this approach).
— Having regular discussions with other local businesses to brainstorm ideas and share experiences (43%, with another 28% considering this approach).
— Assisting employees with transitional resources like unemployment (40%, with another 19% considering doing so).
— Moving to more online business (38%).
The full survey results are available at https://bit.ly/LakeCoBusSurvey5-20.