Survey shows large per cent of Sylvan Lake business negatively affected by COVID-19

Responses to Business Resiliency Survey show many unsure if they could last the next three months

Sylvan Lake’s businesses will not be the same following the end of the current pandemic.

The Town of Sylvan Lake, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Alberta, received 133 varied responses to their Business Resiliency Survey.

Responses to the varied questions garnered responses from “We’re screwed” to “We are going to be fine.”

Amanda Mercer, economic development officer with the Town, said the results of the survey are “a little bit scary.”

“Roughly 24 per cent of respondents felts they could last six months or longer,” Mercer said during a council meeting, adding 30 per cent of respondents were unsure how long they would be able to manage and 41 per cent felt they could not manage over the next three months.

The biggest concern for businesses during the pandemic is covering operating expenses and cash flow, which Mercer says isn’t a big surprise.

Other immediate concerns for local businesses include: understanding what grants and financial supports are available, marketing options to get customers back when reopened, business planning and whether or not to reopen.

The vast majority of businesses who participated in the survey say they have been negatively affected by COVID-19.

“Roughly seven per cent of businesses say they have been positively affected or not affected by the pandemic,” Mercer said.

Sylvan Lake has seen a decrease in employment numbers. According to the survey, local employment numbers has seen a 69 per cent decrease.

“When we did the survey Alberta’s unemployment rate sat at about 13 per cent. We can safely assume local unemployment rate is higher than the provincial average,” Mercer said.

On the positive side, nearly 47 per cent of respondents said they are planning to hire their employees back when they reopen. Another 35 per cent of respondents said they were unsure if employees would be rehired.

“As business levels return, employment rates will increase. However, we will not be where we were.”

Next, Mercer will be reaching out to those who had questions on the survey and then will be using the results to build a resiliency plan for reopening.

According to the report presented to Council, the survey helped the Town to learn what challenges businesses are facing, and connect them with correct information regarding support systems in place.

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