The first results are out concerning how the pandemic is impacting Acadiana businesses
In March, a COVID-19 Business Impact Survey was conducted through a joint effort of the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce and business resource partners including One Acadiana, Opportunity Machine, Downtown Development Authority, Louisiana Small Business Center at UL Lafayette, Acadiana Workforce Solutions, Acadiana Planning Commission, United Way of Acadiana, and other local chambers and economic development offices from around the Acadiana region.
The survey was completed by nearly 1,000 businesses across the region and found 90% of businesses expect their revenue or sales will be down as a result of COVID-19, and over 70% expect them to be down significantly.
Businesses indicated a high level of uncertainty about their workforce. Over one-third of businesses reported they had or were considering laying off workers with an additional one-third not sure. While most businesses considering layoffs reported those numbers would be five or fewer, a small number of businesses estimated layoffs had or could impact over 100 of their employees.
Beyond their concern about retaining their workforce, COVID-19 is impacting businesses in many ways. Two-thirds of respondents indicated their business was watching spending closely. Over half reported event and order cancellations, concern about their workforce becoming ill, decrease in demand for their products, or the need to adjust work schedules and locations.
“This has been an extremely challenging time for our business owners as they adjust to a shifting landscape,” said One Acadiana President & CEO Troy Wayman. “One Acadiana is working diligently with our partners throughout the region to provide solutions, guidance, and information to help navigate this difficult situation. But it will take more than just one organization – a solution for something like this will truly need to be a team effort.”
While many businesses stated they had temporarily closed as a result of COVID-19, others are finding innovative practices to continue to operate. Businesses reported increasing remote work, expanding their online presence, adopting changes to operations or delivery, and adding a focus on sanitation and cleaning. Nonetheless, almost half of businesses indicated they were unsure how long their business could weather the impact of COVID-19.
“The past couple of weeks and the coming days are going to be a unique, challenging time for our business owners and our community. Many businesses are shifting gears and adapting to the changing landscape,” said Chamber President & CEO Amy Thibodeaux, “The Acadia Parish Chamber staff and leadership are working closely with our regional partners, One Acadiana, and other Chambers and Economic Development organizations across the region to provide solutions and support to the business community. We know that working together, we can help our individual communities get through this unusual time.”
A joint effort of chambers of commerce, economic development, non-profit, and workforce development organizations from around the Acadiana region, the survey was open from March 19 – 25, before passage of the federal stimulus bills. Over half of survey respondents were small businesses and most respondents operate in Lafayette Parish. Regional partners are considering a follow-up survey in mid-April to assess the continued impact of COVID-19 on the business climate in Acadiana.