Survey created to help businesses in the region affected by COVID-19

It’s no secret that thousands of businesses in Geauga County, large and small, are feeling the effects of COVID-19, some of them even going to extinction.

It’s no secret that thousands of businesses in Geauga County, large and small, are feeling the effects of COVID-19, some of them even going to extinction.

Many non-essential operations, or those that the governor and the Ohio Department of Health consider able to widely spread the novel coronavirus, have had their doors locked for nearly two months.

Others, like restaurants, have had to severely limit their ability to serve their regular customers and suffer severe financial trauma. Many do not yet know whether government assistance will stop the bleeding enough to keep them functioning.

The full extent of the impact on the business world is unknown, but not unknowable.

A local collaboration of economic development professionals began meeting on March 27, less than two weeks after the closure was announced, to find ways to support the business community in Geauga County, said Kimm Leininger, director executive of Geauga Growth Partnership.

Professionals from the Township of Bainbridge, the four County Chambers of Commerce, the Town of Chardon, the Geauga County Economic Development Office, the Geauga County Township Trustees Association, the Village of Middlefield and GGP met each week to define problems within the local business community and seek solutions, said Leininger.

To fully understand the many issues owners and managers face, the Geauga County Economic Development Task Force created and published an online survey that will provide insight into the county’s business landscape.

The investigation will provide information that will help the group provide programs, services and support to businesses struggling with the impact of the virus, Leininger wrote in the press release.

“We did it as a united group. The task force worked on (the survey) together, ”she said in a telephone interview on May 4, adding that they had drawn some questions from a disaster survey published by the State.

The survey can be viewed on the GGP website, https://www.geaugagrowthpartnership.com, which is updated daily and free to all, including a wealth of information on the latest developments and many resources specifically geared towards small businesses. The deadline is the close of business on May 8.

“We become experts on the resources available – unemployment options, loan comparisons, small business loans. Anyone can tap into (the website), ”said Leininger.

About 95 percent of operations in the county are considered small business and some have already responded to the online survey. It consists of over 30 questions, many of which only require the click of a mouse to answer.

Leininger said she expects the data to be tabulated by the end of May, but has already looked at what has arrived.

“About 75 percent of these companies have lost (revenue) and about 25 percent have gained or remained stable,” she said, adding that those who are still in the dark are making or selling products that are still in demand or that management was able to “pivot and do something differently.”

Leininger urged business owners who applied for loans and didn’t hear if they were successful to follow up. In one case, she learned that a simple typo in an application delayed funding. When the owner contacted the lending institution and corrected the error, the loan was granted quickly.

“They need to talk to their bankers,” she said.

Meanwhile, Leininger is excited about the speed at which the task force has come together and the job that has been done in a short space of time.

When the news broke in March, many businesses in Geauga County were ordered to shut down, GGP management and staff got underway, meeting twice a day for updates and stretching to connect with organizations outside of the county such as the Greater Cleveland Partnership and TeamNEO. , she said.

“At first things were moving fast,” she said.

Within days, it became clear that a network of economic development professionals would be needed to help businesses in the region survive what has become a long road. Forming a task force that can use its combined strengths to help small businesses survive has opened up a new perspective, Leininger said.

“I see (the working group) as a team. It’s really amazing how it all came together, ”she said. “COVID was the reason we got together, but I hope this working group and collaboration will continue beyond COVID. This is the opportunity to go much further.

The surveys are available online at https://bit.ly/covidbusinesssurvey and will be accepted until the close of business on May 8.

About Anne Wurtsbach

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