4/21/2020 // ZEELAND, MICH – Lakeshore Advantage, alongside nine local chambers of commerce, has been polling Allegan and Ottawa county companies weekly for the past four weeks to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. Since the survey began on March 15, 315 unique businesses have participated.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said they were open, and of those, half are running at 50% or less capacity. Fifty-seven percent of respondents have laid off or furloughed employees since March 15.
“Lakeshore Advantage conducted this weekly polling for two keys reasons,” said Jennifer Owens, President, Lakeshore Advantage. “First and foremost to ensure our team’s programming and resources meet the changing needs of area employers. It also will allow us to benchmark our community with more than 100 organizations throughout the U.S. conducting similar polling.”
The polling shows the greatest needs for area businesses include:
- Financial relief
- Return to work action plan
- Personal protective equipment
According to the poll data, 82% of respondents indicated applying for, or planning to apply for, state or federal funding. Twenty-three percent of respondents last week said their company would not survive four more weeks of a stay at home order.
“We businesses cannot survive an additional 70 days of a stay at home order,” said Mark Forbes, Vice President, Special Projects of RCI Adventure Projects headquartered in Allegan. “Even with the Paycheck Protection Program loan, if stay at home continues, our employees will get paid but we will have no capital left to start the business back up.”
Survey data shows that area employers are pivoting and responding to the need for personal protective equipment. Twenty-six percent of respondents indicated their companies have switched their product mix to make essential products. Examples include pivoting from office furniture textiles to making face masks, distilleries making hand sanitizer and companies networking their 3-D printers together to make face shields and sneeze guards.
“The team at DeWys has been working diligently to shift our product mix to meet the growing needs of our customers in the medical, food processing and material handling sectors,” said Mark Schoenborn, President of DeWys Manufacturing. “We welcome direction from the state for all sectors to safely return to work.”
Lakeshore Advantage is hosting a webinar on Thursday, April 23 at 1:00pm called Getting Back to Work: How Employers Should Prepare. The goal for the webinar is to share pertinent information with the business community so employers can begin preparing to safely return to work with public and employee health being a priority. Register HERE.
About Lakeshore Advantage
Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit local economic development organization started in 2003 by forward-focused business and community leaders to ensure current and future generations want to live and work in our vibrant economy. Lakeshore Advantage assists primary employers, from startups to large world-class corporations, in West Michigan’s Allegan and Ottawa counties.
In 2019, Lakeshore Advantage supported 21 business growth projects, resulting in $127 million in private investment and 1,000 new jobs. More at www.lakeshoreadvantage.com.