The  Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce joined a consortium of economic development organizations and chambers of commerce across the Coastal Bend to conduct surveys to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on business operations in South Texas. Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi’s (TAMU-CC) Dr. Jim Lee developed the surveys for the South Texas COVID 19 Task Force.

The objective of the surveys is to monitor the immediate impact of the crisis on local business operations and to assess business needs. The following summarizes results of the second survey, conducted about two weeks following the first survey. Survey data was compiled by the South Texas Economic Development Center at TAMU-CC.

The second survey was conducted the week of April 13, about two weeks after the state, and local communities across South Texas, issued stay-at-home orders.  The survey generated 927 responses from throughout the Coastal Bend and Golden Crescent regions in South Texas. The businesses they represent capture the overall makeup of our local economies.

Key findings were that more than one third of local businesses are closed. Open businesses are operating at 65% capacity on average, compared to about 80% two weeks earlier.

The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in layoffs by 21% of businesses and terminations by 7% of them, while 6% of businesses have hired more workers.

All these figures are higher than the corresponding figures in the first survey, reflecting deeper impacts from the social distancing policy measures.

For employees temporarily not reporting for work, slightly more than 60% are being paid. The typical affected business has experienced a revenue loss of 50%, and it expects to remain open for 12 more weeks before failure. Half of these business owners have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program loan, while 14% of them were not aware of the program.

The overall outlook from the survey demonstrates about one in five business owners anticipates a permanent reduction in their workforce by an average of about 40% over the next three to six months. Along with the first survey (two weeks earlier), the second survey provides a snapshot of the hardship facing South Texas despite the government relief programs aimed to mitigate the economic damage to businesses and their employees.

Drawing from the survey data, the local economies in the Coastal Bend and Golden Crescent regions are currently running at no more than half of their pre-crisis levels.  Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the impact.

The Rockport-Fulton area had great representation in the survey. This participation helps in continuing to monitor changes in the region’s business community due to COVID-19.

The local chamber joined the following organizations in the survey taking: South Texas COVID-19 Task Force Partners, Alice-Jim Wells County Economic Development Corporation, Aransas Pass Chamber of Commerce, Bee Area Partnership, Corpus Christi, Falfurrias, Robstown, Coastal Bend Council of Governments, Corpus Christi Downtown Management District, Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation, Del Mar College, Del Mar College Small Business Development Center, Ingleside Chamber of Commerce, Kingsville Economic Development Council, LiftFund, Nueces County Development Commission, Port of Corpus Christi, Portland Chamber of Commerce, San Patricio Economic Development Corporation, Sinton Chamber of Commerce, Synchronist, University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Victoria Economic Development Corporation, and Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend.

If one has questions, contact Dr. Lee at jlee@tamucc.edu.

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