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Local Entities Continue to Monitor Business Impacts from COVID-19 Crisis

Local Entities Continue to Monitor Business Impacts from COVID-19 Crisis

Posted: Apr 22 2020

For information contact:
Nathan Schneider, Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC Vice President, ph. 701-223-5660
Ellen Huber, City of Mandan Business Development and Communications Director, ph. 701-667-3485

Local Entities Continue to Monitor Business Impacts from COVID-19 Crisis

April 22, 2020 — Business organizations and government entities continue to assess local business survivability and recovery needs from the COVID-19 pandemic. A new monitoring survey finds uneven impacts.

Nearly 86% of respondents report weekly revenue decreases since the virus became widespread. Nearly a third indicate decreases of 75% or more, 11% report normal revenues, and only 3% report increases. Likewise, only 7% or 15 businesses report new hires.

Good news is nearly two-thirds of survey takers say their businesses can withstand more than five months of disruption, but others are at risk of closing permanently, 2% in less than a month, 13% in one to two months, and 22% in three to five months.

Regarding types of assistance helpful going forward, needs are 39% how to protect employees from the virus, 34% how to protect customers, 33% for a buy local campaign, 32% for information on financial assistance over the next 90 days, and 26% how to reopen their business after COVID-19. Others asked for advocacy, convening of business peer group discussions, guidance on modifying business models, technical training on social media use, website development and e-commerce.

Prior to taking the survey April 15-20, half of respondents had contacted their bank about a bridge loan or other financing, 29% had not, and 20% deem it unnecessary. Some respondents are adverse to loans. When it comes to the U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan, 79 businesses report applying. Most had applications still pending at survey time, 16 reported success and eight were unsuccessful. A third, 69 businesses, said they don’t need it and 18%, or 37 respondents say they don’t meet program qualifications.

The federal Paycheck Protection Program, which was exhausted last week and can convert to a grant if expenditures meet requirements, was more popular among respondents with 123 indicating they applied (79 approved, 39 pending and 5 unsuccessful). Almost equal numbers of businesses, 38 and 37, say they don’t need it or don’t qualify.

In terms of operating status, about half of respondent businesses are open regular hours, 31% have reduced hours, and 17% are closed. Only about a third are operating at close to normal levels. About three-fourths are receiving 50% or more of needed supplies and services and 62% are able to sell, ship or deliver more than 50% of their goods and services.  Similarly, nearly half of respondents say e-commerce doesn’t fit their business model, 45% have an online sales presence and 6% are interested in creating an online component.

This was the second survey issued by a collaborative group to assess business impacts. In addition to calling on businesses needing assistance and sharing findings with elected officials, partnering business organizations and local entities are working together on recovery efforts. They may ask businesses to keep sharing their status and needs through more surveys in coming weeks.

The April survey received 235 responses with self-identification from 105 located in Bismarck and 61 in Mandan. Greatest shares of respondents, 33 and 28, are in retail trade or accommodation and food service. Most other sectors were also well represented, The survey summary is available on the websites of most survey partners:

• Bismarck Downtowners
• Bismarck Mandan Board of Realtors
• Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC
• Bismarck Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau
• Bismarck Mandan Home Builders Association
• Center for Technology and Business at the IDEA Center
• City of Bismarck
• City of Mandan Business Development and Communications Department
• Mandan Progress Organization