The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce released survey results today detailing the impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses. With over 70% of respondents reporting they have been significantly impacted by the ongoing pandemic, access to capital is the top need among employers to maintain operations, retain workers and pay rent as sales of goods and services reach record lows.

As the federal government moves closer to passing a fourth relief package, many small business have not received aid, even after being conditionally approved for loans. Programs like the Paycheck Protection Program quickly ran out of funds following the passage of the CARES Act at the end of March. Since then the Small Business Administration has announced it will no longer process applications until further funds are granted from the next relief package. The survey results show that it is crucial the federal government act swiftly as it will be nearly impossible for many Chicago small businesses to survive without this assistance.

Key findings from the survey include: 

  • 66% of respondents reported needing additional access to capital, with 40% reporting the need for expanded SBA loans. 
  • 48% of respondents reported the need for reliable information concerning the ongoing pandemic as well as business operations during the Stay at Home order and once it is lifted. 66% want clear guidance from public health officials prior to returning to work.
  • 88% of respondents have seen a decrease in March revenue, and of that 21% of respondents said the decrease was by 90-100%. 
  • 44% of respondents expect the pandemic to impact their business for more than 6 months.

In addition to federal assistance, the business community is also asking state and local leaders to ease tax and regulatory burdens. This includes delaying the next minimum wage increase at the state level as well delaying the implementation of the Fair Workweek ordinance in the City of Chicago.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and employ many workers in Chicago and across the nation. It is more important than ever before that our federal leaders come together again to fund additional grant and loan programs to help struggling employers and their employees. Further, while we commend our state and local leaders for their decisive action during this pandemic, regulatory relief is needed for our businesses to increase cash flow and come out the other end of this pandemic ready to serve our communities and employ Illinoisans. Taking these actions will not only help our local businesses reopen their doors once the Stay at Home order is lifted, but will help our state and local economies recover and put people back to work,” said Jack Lavin, president & CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

Slides below provide more insights from the survey: