Chamber surveys track outbreak effects.

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Half of Grand Valley business owners and managers responding to a survey reported revenues have dropped anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent or more as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Diane Schwenke

Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said she expects those proportions to increase as subsequent chamber surveys track the effects of the outbreak.

Closures, stay-at-home orders and other measures implemented to slow the spread of the outbreak also have affected businesses. Moreover, the outlook remains uncertain, Schwenke said. “We don’t have an indication on how long this will last.”

In the meantime, the chamber will continue to monitor the effects on local business and determine how best to assist them and meet their needs, she said.

So far, the Grand Junction chamber has compiled on its website at a list of resources as well what’s dubbed a takeout toolkit connecting customers to local food service options.

The Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade chambers also have joined to present a series of free webinars intended to help businesses get through the outbreak.

While collaboration long has been a hallmark for business organizations in  the Grand Valley, Schwenke said those efforts have never been more pronounced.

An email survey conducted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in late March elicited a total a 140 responses from businesses in a variety of sectors, Schwenke said.

Those responses reflected a sudden and unprecedented drop in business, she said. While 28 percent reported business income had dropped between 25 percent and 50 percent since the outbreak began,  another 22 percent said income had dropped 50 percent or more. Fully 55 percent of respondents said they expect their employees will need financial help.

Schwenke said the survey was completed March 23, before some of the measures were implemented. Consequently, she said she expects those proportions to increase when the results of a survey now under way are tabulated.

Those who responded to the March survey cited as their top concerns not only lack of revenue, but also uncertainty over how long their businesses will be affected by the outbreak, more closures and how they’ll take care of employees. A few respondents also cited concerns about contracting COVID-19 or their employees becoming infected.

More than two-thirds of respondents said their businesses had emergency plans.

Respondents also ranked some of the topics about which they’d like to learn more, including access to financing, emergency preparedness, human resource issues and marketing.

In response, the Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade chambers teamed up to schedule a series of free webinars on those topics and others.

A webinar on business loan programs offered through federal outbreak relief efforts attracted 120 participants.

Additional webinars, which will be offered as Zoom conference calls,  are scheduled through May 5. Registration and more information is available on the Grand Junction chamber website.