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Nathan Buehler
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Email; 503-689-3559

May 8, 2020 Media Contact
Listed Below

Oregon Small Businesses Share Significant Impacts in COVID-19 Survey

The survey was a joint effort to communicate with the small business and tourism community, so detailed information can be shared with decision-makers as policy and programs are crafted to help. The survey helped inform a new $10 million small business grant program that will be announced this afternoon, May, 8.

Salem, OR—Thousands of businesses throughout the state responded to a short survey issued jointly by Business Oregon, Travel Oregon, and the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network. The survey's goal was to better understand the impacts COVID-19 has had on the business community.

Understanding the impact that COVID-19 has had on business sectors across the state will be critical in developing policy decisions for recovery. The survey results are being shared with elected officials of the Oregon legislature, as well as members of the Governor's Coronavirus Economic Recovery Council, and Regional Solutions Economic Recovery Teams. Information gathered through efforts like this will help guide policy decisions as Oregon officials execute plans for economic recovery and rebuilding, and move toward easing restrictions on non-essential travel and reopening affected businesses.

"While we know the impacts are enormous, we wanted to communicate with our business partners and collect information we can pair with all our data sources," said Business Oregon Interim Director Chris Cummings. "This information will not only help us craft strategies within our relative agencies to help, but it's also data we can share with lawmakers, community foundations, and any organization that may find it useful. We're all in this together."

business impact chart

The survey was open for two weeks in April and was shared publicly through partner lists and other networks. The survey was available in English and Spanish. There were more than 5,000 responses to the survey, which solicited information from around 19 questions from Oregon small businesses.

The survey questions focused on what impacts the business has experienced, or what business owners think they will experience in the short term. Topics included revenue impacts, employment impacts, and primary concerns of the business owners. Key takeaways include:

  • Decreased sales was the top reported impact, with 72% of responses citing lower sales, followed by decreased hours for workers, and temporary business closures.
  • Uncertainty, and the inability to plan, is the biggest challenge facing Oregon businesses during COVID-19, followed closely by a decline in sales.
  • 40% of Oregon businesses have temporarily closed during COVID-19, while another 2% permanently closed their businesses. The situation is worse in rural counties, with 45% temporarily closed and 3% permanently closed.
  • 27% of Oregon businesses have laid off employees, and 44% have decreased hours for employees.
  • 70% of businesses report they have either have closed or laid off employees, or will have to do so by July if economic conditions do not improve.
  • 28% of businesses saw revenue drop by 90% or more in April 2020 (compared to April of 2019).
  • Revenue declined more for women- and minority-owned businesses.
  • Accommodation, arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors faced the largest revenue declines.
  • 50% of tourism businesses saw revenue decline by 90% or more in April.
  • Only 33% of businesses have workforces that can work remotely. Only 12% of tourism jobs can be done remotely.

"It's hard to find words that adequately convey the severe impact that COVID-19 is having on Oregon's tourism industry. Restaurants, wineries, breweries, hotels, and other small businesses are the backbone of our industry and help make a trip to Oregon all the more memorable," said Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon. "As bleak as the current industry outlook is, we know that tourism supports state and local economies and will be a vital part of Oregon's economic recovery. As an agency, we are working closely with the Governor's office and public health officials on economic recovery plans to help our local communities through the rebuilding process. When the time is right, as an industry, we will move forward together."

The survey was predominantly completed by small businesses with less than 10 employees. This group made up 69% of the responses, consistent with the share of overall businesses in Oregon, where this group makes up 74% of establishments. This data is also consistent with the concerns reported by Oregon's Small Business Development Centers.

"Each day our centers help hundreds of businesses that have suddenly seen their revenue collapse. These results show that the pain these businesses are feeling is real, and it is leading business owners to make some very difficult decisions," said Oregon Small Business Development Center Director Mark Gregory. "It is incumbent on us as technical assistance providers to help these businesses get through these difficult times. This will be a long and challenging period of recovery following this pandemic."

Business Oregon will announce a new grant program to be run through local communities later today. The survey helped inform the program, including focusing on sole proprietors, and those that have not been able to access federal resources such as SBA loans.

Travel Oregon also announced its COVID-19 Emergency Response Grants Program this week for tourism industry applicants, which will open for applications on May 11. Program applications may be used for general operating support with the goal of maintaining jobs. Total funding available for the program is $800,000, and final grant awards will be announced on June 3. The Grant Guidelines contain eligibility requirements, funding parameters, and application questions.

An executive summary of the survey is available, and a slide deck with survey results can be found on Business Oregon's website.

Media Contacts:
Nathan Buehler, Business Oregon, 503-689-3559
Sara Morrissey, Travel Oregon, 503-440-4066
Trevor Steele, Oregon Small Business Development Centers, 541-954-0065


About Business Oregon
As the state's economic development agency, Business Oregon invests in Oregon businesses, communities, and people to promote a globally competitive, diverse, and inclusive economy. The agency's services span rural community development and infrastructure financing; business retention, expansion and recruitment; export promotion and international trade; investments in industry research and development and entrepreneurship; small business assistance; and support for arts and cultural organizations.

About Travel Oregon
The Oregon Tourism Commission, dba Travel Oregon, works to enhance visitors' experiences by providing information, resources, and trip planning tools that inspire travel and consistently convey the exceptional quality of Oregon. The commission aims to improve Oregonians' quality of life by strengthening the economic impacts of the state's $12.8 billion* tourism industry that employs more than 117,000 Oregonians. Visit traveloregon.com to learn more. (*These numbers reflect the 2019 economy, prior to COVID-19).

About Oregon Small Business Development Centers
The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network provides advising, training, online courses, and resources for businesses throughout Oregon. Its 19 conveniently-located centers and 42 locations assist business people in every aspect of business development and management.