• Chamber releases local COVID business survey results

    Following the circulation of two surveys related to the COVID pandemic and collapse of energy prices, the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce is pleased to share the results.
    Rick More, Chamber CEO commented, “as the Chamber we feel it is exceptionally important to gain a solid understanding of the true impact this crisis has had on local business. This data will be essential in ensuring our decision makers are properly informed and understanding of the depth and degree of the challenges our business’s are facing in order to make the best possible policy choices to support the economic recovery of our region.” 
    The Red Deer Chamber distributed a survey from the Alberta Chambers of Commerce followed shortly by another focused on municipal issues.
    The surveys both showed the significantly negative impact of COVID and the collapse of energy prices on our already weakened economy from the standpoint of layoffs and businesses reduced capacity to operate.
    59% of businesses have had to make layoffs as a result of the crisis and just 8% plan to fully rehire following the crisis. When asked about their ability to survive under current conditions (keeping in mind this was before the stage one of Alberta’s relaunch), 33% said they could remain open indefinitely and 66% for less than six months.
    Over the next 12 months 44% expected their business to contract, 46% predicted it to stay about the same and 10% predicted their business to expand.
    In evaluating the municipal response 26% found the city’s 90 day utility deferral to be very or somewhat helpful to their business, 25% for the property tax extension, 12% for the downtown business levy extension and 16% for the free downtown parking. Respondents were also asked about the grant programs added to this year’s budget earlier this year. Depending on the particular grant, between 2% and 6% think they are very or somewhat helpful to their business.
    Participants were then asked a series of hypotheticals about potential actions the city could take. 80% thought forgiving utility payments would be very or somewhat helpful, 78% if there were no increase to property taxes in 2021, 82% if the city reduced property taxes, 69% for reductions in red-tape and regulations, and 63% thought investments in infrastructure would be very or somewhat helpful to their business.
    More continued, “We entered into the COVID pandemic with our economy already limping so we aren’t shocked by the results. Our local businesses are very concerned with their ability to recover given the strong headwinds they’re facing. This data will be invaluable as we work with our government leaders to promote sensible, broad-based policy solutions to facilitate the economic recovery.”