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Westchester biz community hanging on by a thread

Westchester’s small business community is struggling to keep its head above water and warning it needs help to come through the coronavirus pandemic.

While more than half have managed to keep all of their workers on the payroll so far, nearly three quarters are deeply concerned about cash flow, rent, paying employees and trying to figure out if and how to continue after the crisis.

“The Westchester business community is struggling to survive during this crippling economic downturn and needs help,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer, pointing to a survey released today (Wednesday) by the Westchester County Office of Economic Development.

GEORGE LATIMER

“This survey provides the County with valuable information on what services and assistance these companies need to remain in business as our economy recovers from the pandemic.

“While each business is dealing with their own specific set of circumstances, the survey helped us to find the common ground and to identify how best to allocate our resources to address the needs. This is like running a marathon on an obstacle course with obstacles we have never seen before,” said Shari Rosen Ascher, Advocacy & Community Liaison for the Office of the Westchester County Executive. “The survey is only the beginning of an open dialogue between the County Executive’s office and the business community,” she added.

The survey, which was sent to the County Economic Development Office’s email list as well as to all the chambers, received more than 700 responses.

Here are key findings from the survey:

58% said that they will lose 75-100% of their revenue as a result of COVID. However, 56% said they have not let anyone go as of the date of the survey.

 More than half of the businesses in the survey were from retail, personal services, administrative and professional services. 60% are either solo Entrepreneurs or businesses with less than 5 employees

 85% need financial assistance with 64% applying for SBA loans. 39% need help with the application process.

 29% of respondents report annual gross revenue over $1,000,000 and 25% under $100,000. Small businesses have a broad spectrum

 The majority of respondents do have some part-time employees and for some businesses this represents the majority of their work force

 65% have been in business for more than 10 years so they are part of the fabric of Westchester

 70% need help addressing or changing business model or marketing to help keep customers/clients. They are concerned with immediate situation with regards to cash flow, rent, paying employees and trying to figure out if and how to continue after.

 Businesses are looking to their Chambers or business organizations for information and advocacy for state and federal programs; help with marketing and promoting the businesses in the community; networking and connection with one another and where they can find help

They are also looking to the Office of Economic Development to help them connect to resources; accurate and up-to-date information, webinars, help with applications and grants or incentives.

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