Survey finds pain increasing among Central Florida businesses

The number of businesses with exhausted cash reserves tripled since late March.

Seven in eight businesses in Central Florida are being hurt by the economic crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from the Orlando Economic Partnership,

That organization’s second “Business Impact Survey” conducted since the crisis became apparent finds deepening business malaise in the Orlando area, though companies now are looking more toward strategies other than employee cuts to stay in business.

Preliminary results of the second survey, conducted April 9-15 of 214 Central Florida businesses, found 87% said they have been negatively impacted and 86% are seeing reduced profits.

Almost half, 48% have responded with layoffs or reduced hours of employees and a full 9% said they have exhausted their cash reserves.

The negative impact and reduced profit numbers were slightly higher than what the Orlando Economic Partnership found with its first survey conducted March 19-25, while the reliance on job cutbacks shows a slight reduction in that strategy.

However, the percentage of businesses saying they have exhausted their cash reserves tripled since the March survey.

“This increase was expected as impacts from the economic shock come in waves,” the partnership stated in a news release. “While restaurants, bars, the event industry etc. felt the immediate consequences of necessary social distancing policies, national data is beginning to reveal a second wave of effects as business services such as lawyers, contractors, health workers not fighting the virus, have fewer projects and less work.”

The Orlando Economic Partnership is a joint organization of the Orlando regional chamber of commerce and economic development commission.

The survey also found that 36% of the businesses said they had not yet applied for any form of relief through Florida’s depleted Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program, the federal government’s depleted Payroll Protection Program, or other business relief programs.

“These businesses [not seeking relief] were still experiencing declines and engaging in layoffs, according to the survey data. However, they have more cash on hand, 72% have cash reserves to sustain their business for 13+ weeks, and 40% of these respondents employ more than 500 people in Central Florida. In order to apply for the PPP, the company must employ less than 500 people,” the organization noted.

The Orlando Economic Partnership said it would be conducting a third Business Impact Survey, and one focus of that one would be researching why businesses have not sought relief.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


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