Insights from Florida Chamber Insurance Summit: Small businesses continue to limp through COVID-19 pandemic
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

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45% of small business owners are concerned about their "ability to operate in the future."

More than eight months after the first COVID-19 case in Florida, many small businesses remain unsure if they can stay afloat even with help from the government.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce on Thursday launched its 2020 Virtual Insurance Summit. It kicked off with a status report on Florida’s fiscal health.

“Things are different depending on where you are in the state,” said Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish. “It’s certainly different by industry. It’s certainly different by region and it’s different by the size of business.”

While businesses at-large are seeing somewhat of an uptick, Parish said COVID-19 impacts are devastating small businesses.  More specifically, Parrish identified leisure, hospitality, and other industries dependent on visitors as the worst hit.

“It’s affecting small businesses more than large businesses because of the opportunity to have capital,” he said. “The large businesses certainly have an advantage here.”

Notably, a recent survey conducted by the Florida Foundation found 61% of small business owners are “extremely concerned about the economy” while 45%  are concerned about their “ability to operate in the future.”

With two weeks until lawmakers first convene to prepare themselves for the 2021 Legislative Session, Dean Mead Shareholder H. French Brown said Floridians can expect budget talks to dominate the session’s discourse.

Florida’s budget prior to COVID-19 was expected to end the state fiscal year with roughly $2 billion in surplus funds. French said those funds would have been used as reserves or rolled into the current fiscal year.

“Unfortunately due to COVID, those funds, those anticipated revenues essentially evaporated,” French said.

French, however, suggested there is a silver lining and that “good numbers are on the horizon.”

Florida’s most recent revenue reports have returned totals well above estimates.

Notably, economists forecasted more than 3.4 billion in losses over the course of the year. Since August, however, French said the state has made up just over 4.4 million.

“It’s good that things are trending in the right direction and hopefully they continue to do that over the following months,” French said.

The two-day annual insurance summit kicked off virtually this year and will feature presentations from Florida’s top insurance leaders and elected officials.

More details on the summit can be found online.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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