Southeast Conference, Spruce Root release 2 economic studies

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The studies are the COVID-19 Business Needs Survey for Southeast Alaska and the Southeast Alaska COVID-19 Business Impacts Survey.

    Spruce Root and Southeast Conference each reached out to businesses across the region between March 20 and March 25 to gauge the level of disruption that COVID-19 is having on operations in order to better understand how to support regional small businesses during this
    difficult time.

    The Southeast Conference survey was done in conjunction with Alaska Regional Economic Organizations across the state and was aimed at understanding layoffs to date, remaining weeks of business viability, and supply chain disruptions. Spruce Root worked closely with the Juneau Economic Development Council, the Juneau Downtown Business Association, and regional Chambers of Commerce to identify the financial needs of Southeast Alaskan businesses.

    Spruce Root will use this information to create an emergency financial product that can assist as quickly as possible.

    A total of 272 businesses responded to the Southeast Conference Business Impacts Survey. These employers have already laid off 16% of their total workforce due to the COVID-19 virus, with an average of 4 layoffs per organization. Respondents currently have 5,440 workers and
    have already laid off 1,088 workers (or put them into unpaid status).

    One-third of businesses expect to cut more staff shortly. One-third of respondents say their business is at risk of closing permanently. While on average, businesses think they can survive 15 weeks of this continued crisis, 30% risk permanent closure within the next four weeks. Results include special breakouts for Juneau, Ketchikan, and tourism.

    A total of 126 businesses responded to the Spruce Root Business Needs Survey. Survey respondents requested immediate relief from government agencies.

    They requested more communications from the State of Alaska and from banks on measures they are taking to assist businesses as well as employees. Respondents collectively offer 1,751 jobs in Southeast Alaska. More than half of the survey respondents were businesses in either the retail industry or in the leisure/hospitality industries.

    If closures continue from now through June 30, revenue loss is estimated to be $46.8 M and 1,049 employees are expected to be laid-off, furloughed, or delayed in hiring. The majority of respondents, 69%, responded that they are considering some type of emergency or short-term financing for their business.

    Financial needs would primarily be used to cover operational expenses such as payroll and rent within the next year. Of those looking for
    capital, 47% are looking for capital within the next month.

    In response to the survey, Ashley Snookes, Programs Manager at Spruce Root explains, “The question right now isn’t just how we’ll flatten the health curve of coronavirus crisis, but the economic one too. Many of the Alaskan businesses we know and love are at risk of closing if financial assistance isn’t provided in the next two months. We must act collectively to increase their access to emergency capital.”

    Robert Venables, Executive Director of Southeast Conference notes, “Government mandates for public health and safety are putting our economy into an ‘induced coma’. There are grave concerns about how the business community will survive these measures until better times. Our goal is to work with our partners at the local, regional, state and federal levels to deliver resources that will meet the business needs in Southeast. This analysis helps to articulate those needs and concerns. Southeast Alaskans are resilient and we will get through this together..”

    The Spruce Root and Southeast Conference websites, spruceroot.org and www.seconference.org, contain additional information about business resources related to COVID-19.

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