Small-business owners in Citrus County are more optimistic today than one year ago when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging.
That's according to Jim Green, treasurer and workshop chairman for Nature Coast Florida SCORE.
Green mentors small-business owners and he’s noticed an uptick in people calling his office to either start or expand a business and grow their marketing.
A year ago, that wasn’t happening, he said.
The local results are more encouraging than the Florida Small Business Development Center's (SBDC)’s release this week of its Phase 2 COVID Impact Survey, completed earlier in 2021.
The survey asked more than 1,100 small-business owners their perceptions and impacts one year after the pandemic and economic lockdowns began.
The SBDC reached this conclusion: “While restrictions have lessened and Congress has passed sweeping legislation to provide emergency relief, small businesses are still suffering and, for many, their outlook is bleak.”
The survey was also conducted before the recent rise in positive COVID cases due to the variant.
Still, progress has been made since the agency’s first survey.
While respondents still reported that COVID had left serious negative effects across their businesses, overall most respondents reported improving numbers and are more optimistic than the Phase 1 findings.
Still, 53.69% said the pandemic still had a large negative effect on their business; 30.50% reported a moderate negative effect; 6.69% had little to no effect; 3.74% a moderate positive effect; 2.87% a large positive effect.
“The pandemic permeated every facet of our daily lives, and the social and economic implications from COVID will be experienced for years to come,” said Greg Britton, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network.
Green said local business owners are still having success with two federal programs to get back on their feet: The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Both provide emergency funding to small businesses affected by the pandemic.
“The biggest problem continues to be employment — hiring people and getting them to come to work,” Green said.
The SBDC survey was completed in collaboration with the Florida Chamber Foundation, CareerSource Florida, and UWF Haas Center.
To view the survey findings, visit https://floridasbdc.org/disaster/covid-impact-survey/phase-2-results/.