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Open debate: when should businesses come back?

The disagreement over when the economy should reopen rages on.

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  • | 5:22 p.m. May 11, 2020
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It’s the (virtual, of course) bar debate for the contested coronavirus pandemic times: when to open the economy?

The Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University, in its second survey on the impact of the pandemic on Southwest Florida businesses, recently attempted to address that issue, among other topics. The result: There’s not much agreement on either side. To wit, 44% of survey respondents were concerned about opening up the economy too early, while 44% were likewise concerned about opening it up too late.

Of those concerned with opening too early, 34% preferred waiting 15 to 30 days; 30% were willing to wait another month or two; and 9% were willing to wait more than 60 days. Of those concerned with opening too late, 87%, the survey found, want to open in the next 15 days, while just 9% were willing to wait up to 30 more days. “Hardly any from this group wanted to wait more than 60 days,” states the report.

The 87% figure is disconcerting to Christopher Westley, director of the Regional Economic Research Institute and dean of the Lutgert College of Business at FGCU. “That really shows the desperation on the part of many business owners,” Westley tells Coffee Talk. “They know there’s a risk that if things don’t (open soon) the effects could be devastating.”

The 20-question Internet survey was sent to chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and visitor convention bureaus in Charlotte, Collier, and Lee counties April 27. Nearly 500 executives completed the survey from April 27-May 3.




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