Survey: Two-thirds of Genesee County businesses hurt by coronavirus measures

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GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (3/24/2020) - A survey by the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce shows how badly small businesses are hurting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Flint and Genesee County businesses are reporting significant effects from the coronavirus pandemic.

The chamber says two-thirds of businesses are experiencing quantifiable impacts on their operations as the pandemic spreads. Some have lost 30% to 50% of their sales due to containment measures.

The survey was launched on March 16 -- a week before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay home order likely hurt many small businesses even more.

“It’s clear from the data that the situation was deeply troubling a week ago. I’m certain conditions are continuing to decline for many of our businesses,” said Chamber CEO Tim Herman.

Restaurants have been hurt in the most visible ways. Many have laid off staff or reduced scheduled working hour significantly to cope with the loss in sales.

Other businesses have closed or forced employees to work offsite. Consultants have been forced to postpone sessions with clients or had contracts canceled altogether, according to the chamber survey.

Some industrial and manufacturing facilities have made only small changes by increasing cleaning schedules and moving workers farther apart.

Businesses reported the following effects on their employees:

-- 26% reported that employees will make less money, primarily in the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries.
-- 24% reported no changes for their workers, mainly consulting firms and nonprofit organizations that serve at-risk populations.
-- 22% reported laying off employees, almost entirely restaurants.
-- 19% reported employees working fewer hours or remotely and having their duties changed.

At the same time, more than half of businesses indicated a willingness to help the community cope with coronavirus by helping distribute basic needs, offering discounts and giving away gift cards.

“Despite the current uncertainty and hardships, with more on the horizon, it is very encouraging that our business community remains not only empathetic but ready to assist their neighbors, as we work through this crisis,” Herman said.