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Central Coast Coalition of Chambers surveys businesses on needs and concerns

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 00:23:41-05

The Central Coast Coalition of Chambers released their monthly results to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses. Since May, nearly 2,400 businesses between San Miguel and Solvang have responded.

The latest survey results from November 9-30 found that nearly 30% of employers plan to hire in the next month, but many are still struggling.

“Right around the start of COVID, we started a survey regionally because we were all doing our own individual ones so we ended up doing this regional survey with all of us combined so we could get a better feeling for the whole region," said Jim Dantona, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

Results were similar across the region with spas, salons, and fitness centers among some of the businesses struggling the most.

Other industries like wedding venues are also facing challenges.

"They’re finding ways to kind of make some of it work, but really their whole business model has been kind of torn apart," Dantona said.

The Monday Club in San Luis Obispo is dependent on its venue to stay afloat.

“Our operating income comes substantially from rental of the facility as a wedding venue, business seminar occasions, receptions, parties, inside and outside in our garden and we can’t do that," said Roberta Jorgensen, Monday Clubhouse Conservancy President.

For Paso Robles, it's hospitality industries like restaurants and hotels that are hurting the most.

“Our ecosystem, in general, is really heavily reliant upon the tourism industry and once you impact that, it’s a domino effect, unfortunately," said Gina Fitzpatrick, Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

A push for economic development initiatives began in 2018 for the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and it's still conducting a similar survey, 'The Business Walk.'

Results found that 58% of businesses stated they were in good standing, a number that was at 62% two years ago.

“I felt that was very interesting that we’d only come back a couple of points when really in the grand scheme of things we know the businesses that are hurting are truly, truly hurting now," Fitzpatrick said.

Across the board, both surveys found revenue and financial assistance to be the greatest business needs.

Moving back into the purple, most restrictive tier before even tighter restrictions came, heightened concerns for both the local and national economy.

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Local and national economy concerns grew for businesses after both counties fell back into the purple, most restrictive tier.

The number one concern still being a 'negative impact on my job/income/business.'

Looking ahead to the start of 2021, some are trying to remain optimistic but are uncertain about what the future will hold.

“We’re starting to have inquiries for renting the building next fall and that’s great, but fall is a long way from now," Jorgensen said.

The Coalition, made up of chambers from Northern Santa Barbara County to Northern San Luis Obispo County, says it plans to continue to conduct more surveys of businesses with the latest lockdown restrictions in place.