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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 19, 2020 2 weeks ago

Temperature check: Business group reports on members' pandemic concerns

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Survey delivers mixed results about effects of COVID-19 crisis on non-hospitality firms.

The southern division of the German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC), which includes Florida, has released the results of a survey that asked executives at its member companies to rate the effects of COVID-19 on their business operations. Most of the 101 companies surveyed operate in the automotive industry, manufacturing and professional services like banks, accounting and law firms, and over half employ less than 50 people. 

Although the findings appear to be a mixed bag, a key takeaway is companies in these sectors are faring much better than businesses in hospitality and tourism. 

Nearly seven in 10, 69.3%, say COVID-19 hasn't required them to furlough or lay off employees. And only 8.9% say they had to furlough or lay off more than 50% of their workforce. 

Similarly, more than half — 56.4% — say they have not implemented pay cuts for employees. And a slight majority of respondents — 50.5% — say they are not planning any significant business strategy changes as a result of COVID-19. 

While 36% of respondents say they successfully obtained Paycheck Protection Program funds, 30.9% say they knew about PPP and other relief programs, but did not pursue them. 

Not all the responses are rosy. Nearly two-thirds, 60.8%, of respondents say lack of demand for products and services has become a business challenge. About 14% say lack of access to supplies and inputs is also a problem. 

While significant strategic shifts might not be a priority, 76.2% of respondents say they will heighten their focus on employee handwashing, social distancing and not allowing people to come to work if they are sick or running a fever. When it comes to requiring employees and customers to wear personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks, respondents were mostly split, with 45.3% saying PPE would be required. However, 67% say they will institute additional cleaning and disinfecting of workspaces. 

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