Phil Castle, The Business Times
The results of a survey once again reflect the varied effects of the coronavirus pandemic on Grand Valley businesses.
“It’s a real mixed bag,” said Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
A total of 24 percent of the business owners and managers who responded to the survey conducted by the chamber said business income was up over last year or the pandemic hadn’t affected income.
“I think that’s a real positive,” Schwenke said.
At the same time, 32 percent of respondents said they have two months or less of cash reserves on hand and 70 percent reported less than six months in reserves.
“As this lingers, our businesses are more and more at risk.” Schwenke said.
The survey, completed Dec. 15, was the seventh conducted by the chamber since the onset of the pandemic to track the effects of COVID-19 and related restrictions on local businesses. A total of 180 business owners and managers responded to the latest survey, including those in the construction, financial, professional services and retail sectors. More 40 percent of those who responded represented firms with less than 10 employees.
Asked about the effects of COVID-19 on business imcome, 15 percent of those who responded said income had increased over last year.
Another 9 percent of business owners and managers said the pandemic hasn’t affected business income.
Another 31 percent of respondents reported a decrease in income of less than 25 percent, and 45 percent reported a decrease in income of 25 percent or more.
While 68 percent of respondents reported receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans, another 19 percent said they used individual stimulus checks to help them with their businesses and 8 percent said they used local grants or loans.
More than half — 52 percent — of business owners and managers said they had the same number of employees than they did in early 2020, while 31 percent said they had fewer employees and 17 percent more.
Nearly a third — 32 percent — of respondents said they have two months or less of cash reserves on hand. That compares to 5 percent who reported the same proportion in August. Another 70 percent reported less than six months of cash reserves.
Looking ahead, 36 percent of business owners and managers anticipate worsening economic conditions over the next six months, and 27 percent said they don’t know what to expect.
Schwenke said there are some encouragement vaccines will work in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and in turn reopen the economy. But vaccines might not be widely available for months.
In the meantime, she said she’s worried about what happens in January and February, which are typically slower months for business even without a pandemic.