SIUC releases survey results on effects of COVID-19 on small businesses

SIUC releases survey results on effects of COVID-19 on small businesses
A total of 224 business owners from Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry and Williamson Counties responded to the anonymous survey. (Source: KFVS)

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Southern Illinois University Carbondale conducted an online survey on the effects of COVID-19 on small businesses.

According to Deborah Barnett, SIU Research Park associate director, the goal was to assess the impact on businesses in the southern Illinois region.

A total of 224 business owners from Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry and Williamson Counties responded to the anonymous survey while it was posted between April 28 and May 4.

According to SIU, the highest number of responses came from Williamson County with 97 and Jackson County with 76; Perry County followed with 22 and the remainder came from Franklin, Jefferson and another county not listed.

Among the survey respondents, 67 percent reported they are locally owned with two-thirds in business for 10 years or more. More than half owned their business property and most employ 2-5 full-time and 2-5 part-time employees.

Some answered all of the questions, while others responded to just some of the online questions. Because of this, the actual response numbers vary.

Staff studied the complete survey results and said they are creating programming and services specifically designed to help businesses now and in the future.

According to the report, so far, southern Illinois small businesses are adapting and hanging on despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but “if disruption were to continue at the current rate, 40.2 percent of business owners reported that they may be at risk of permanent closure within 1-5 months.”

Of those surveyed, 72 percent reported they had not laid off employees, while 63 percent had not placed employees on furlough as a result of the impact from COVID-19. However, 67.9 percent reported their business revenues fell by 26 percent or more.

Among the respondents, those who have an online sales component reported an increase of nearly 27 percent in online sales.

According to the report, more than 70 percent said they needed some type of gap funding to stay afloat through June 1. Most commonly, business owners have applied for gap finance assistance programs like the Federal Paycheck Protection Program and the Federal Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

Others have looked for assistance through local banks or agencies.

Business owners reported some challenges and concerns as a result of the pandemic, including loss of revenue, changes and reduction in hours, concerns about protecting the health and well-being of employees and the loss of business and customer traffic.

According to the survey, there were some differences among respondents. Some indicated penalty-free extensions for expenses would be a helpful form of assistance, while others preferred opportunities to talk with other business owners, social media technical training, information on marketing or help with cash flow management.

Companies wanting to learn more about the business services offered at SIU can visit the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIU online, call 618-536-2424 or email sbdc@siu.edu.

Applied Research Consultants, a university organization made up of graduate students and faculty in SIU’s psychology department, set up and analyzed the survey. Those involved in the project include:

  • Stephen Berry, psychology doctoral candidate, Mountain Home, Arkansas
  • Christina Engelken, psychology doctoral candidate and project lead, Olathe, Kansas
  • Erika Kline, psychology doctoral candidate and project lead, Hagerstown, Maryland
  • Tanya Rajayah, psychology master’s student, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Doug Sneddon, psychology master’s student, Benton, Illinois

The results will be sent to stakeholders and business owners and will also be posted here.

SIU Chancellor John M. Dunn said the survey reflects the university’s commitment to serving the region and the state.

“The university stands ready to work with our representatives in Washington D.C., Governor JB Pritzker, the General Assembly, federal and state agencies and local community and business leaders to help businesses of all sizes successfully navigate through these unprecedented times for the betterment of our communities,” he said.

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