Submitted by Jani Hitchen, Pierce County Council District 6.
Business leaders in Pierce County recently shared what they need to survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through an online survey distributed by the county’s Economic Development Department, area businesses were queried about the type of assistance they sought through the pandemic, and the effectiveness of those programs. Businesses were also asked which type of support and services they need in 2021. (View the survey results).
Results of the survey were presented this week to Council’s Economic and Infrastructure Development Committee. Watch the presentation (survey results are shared at the 30-minute mark).
More than 1,700 business leaders in Pierce County completed the survey. They represent businesses in all sectors located throughout the county.
Of those that completed the survey, the majority are small businesses with 77% having 10 or fewer employees. Additionally, 57% have been in business for 11 or more years, 17% for 6-10 years, and 26% for five years or less. Results showed that 51% of those that responded were women-owned, 31% were minority-owned, and 11% were veteran-owned.
According to the results, the most frequently used program offered during the pandemic was the assistance made available by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The county’s free personal protective equipment (PPE) program was next, followed by the Emergency Small Business Relief Loan/Grant and Commercial Rent and Mortgage Assistance programs, all created by Council to distribute a portion of the federal CARES Act funds the county received.
In terms of employment, 55% of businesses surveyed said they have had no change in the number of employees over the past six months, 37% noted a decrease, and 8% have increased the number of people they employ.
Looking to what support is needed this year, funding for operations and fixed costs such as rent/mortgage assistance rose to the top, followed by supplies/PPE, and funding for business growth/expansion.
In the coming weeks Council will look at ways it can continue to support the local economy through new and existing programs as it prepares to distribute the latest round of anticipated federal funding geared toward recovery from the pandemic shutdown.